How One Online Program Creates a Path for Tomorrow’s College Graduates

In today’s job market, the demand for employees with a college degree is on the rise, leaving applicants with only a high school degree at a significant disadvantage. According to the New York Times, this forces “the less educated even further down the food chain” and contributes to an unemployment rate that’s nearly twice as high for workers with a high school diploma or less compared with workers with a college degree. For students pursuing a college degree, making a successful transition from high school to a post-secondary institution is critical. MyFoundationsLab aims to facilitate this transition for remedial students and provide a foundation for students to succeed in higher education.

MyFoundationsLab is an online program designed to assess and improve a wide range of reading, writing, math, and study skills. Students in remedial-level academic courses take a diagnostic assessment through MyFoundationsLab and receive a personalized learning path that guides the student through a modified curriculum. Since its launch in 2011, 18 educator studies using My FoundationsLab have been completed. In their studies, the educators have reported increased achievement among their students that have used MyFoundationsLab. To explore some of the successes reported by educators in a rigorous manner, Pearson is working on two quasi-experimental studies that will measure the relationship between use of MyFoundationsLab and broader college success and retention rates and to investigate differences in achievement and college progression among users and non-users of MyFoundationsLab.

At Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE, Professor Phip Ross launched the grant-funded Quick Start program with the aim to help students achieve higher scores on the Compass college placement exam. Quick Start combines the personalized remediation lessons of MyFoundationsLab with advising, tutoring, and advocacy support from administrators. Students who enroll in the program complete 10 or more hours of work in MyFoundationsLab to earn a passing grade, which in turn entitles them to retake the Compass exam (with the fee waived). The goal of the program is to help save students tuition fees by testing out of developmental classes. Professor Ross reported that between May 2012 and June 2014, placement scores among students at Southeast Community College improved.

"The Quick Start program proves that, with modest remediation and advising, these students can outperform peers who initially scored higher on the placement exam."

Professor Phip Ross, Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE

A unique feature of MyFoundationsLab is the personalized and adaptive learning path that takes students through the educational content. Students are able to master skills on an individual basis, working at their own pace. MyFoundationsLab’s personalized learning path helped another student at Southeast Community College gain a second chance at life.

"I made some mistakes - I was a felon"

Student at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE

After reaching a turning point, he was determined become a better role model for his four children. His goals included opening his own business and mentoring troubled youths—but he knew he needed to earn his college degree first.

"[MyFoundationsLab] helped me refresh my skills and I am now registered for college."

Student at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, NE

Intended outcome 1

Students who use MyFoundationsLab improve in skills.

A study conducted in 2014 found that students who used MyFoundationsLab within a Math Boost-Up program performed better than students who used MyFoundationsLab alone, suggesting that MyFoundationsLab is effective at improving students’ math skills when it is used in a blended instructional approach.

Pearson is currently conducting a two-year longitudinal study with instructors at two community colleges to determine the overall impact of MyFoundationsLab to student success. The study will take into consideration other factors that affect student success, such as academic advising, prior academic achievements, and out-of-school responsibilities. The goal of this study is to isolate the contribution of MyFoundationsLab to student success when all other factors are statistically controlled.

Intended outcome 2

Students have a positive learning experience while using the product.

Over the past 10 years, 22 instructors that have used MyFoundationsLab have produced Educator Studies in which they have reported on the positive experiences of students that have used MyFoundationsLab.  A survey conducted by researchers at Miami-Dade College found that students have a positive learning experience while using MyFoundationsLab.

Ninety-eight percent of 205 students surveyed strongly agreed that the online courses were easy to navigate and that they liked choosing the skills to work on each day. When asked if MyFoundationsLab was easy to access outside of class, 90 percent of students strongly agreed.The results of this survey show promising signs that students have a positive learning experience with MyFoundationsLab, but further research needs to be done to gather more concrete, reliable data.

Educators across the country have come to rely on MyFoundationsLab to help students gain the remedial education they need upon entering college, ensuring students have an equal chance at succeeding in higher education.

In the summer of 2014, Honolulu Community College launched a remediation program called “Compass Boot Camp”. Offered in a hybrid format, the program required students to use MyFoundationsLab to generate a personalized Learning Path.

"I am pleasantly surprised and impressed with the success rates for Boot Camp students, I believe that Boot Camp prepares students for their college coursework while easing the transition to college by engaging students with campus resources and staff prior to starting their first semester."

Academic Coach Kristi Teruya.

At Middlesex Community College in Connecticut, a hybrid program called Intensive College Transition Program (ICTP) aims to help adult learners enter higher education. Fred Silbermann, the program facilitator, chose MyFoundationsLab to refresh and remediate students’ skills in the program and to help reduce the number of development courses needed for this group of students. According to Professor Silbermann,

"The ICTP intervention starts the moment the recruiter shakes the hand of a prospective student...the recruiter advises students about the program requirements and conducts a risk test to identify potential barriers to success. That analysis forms the basis of a personalized set of wraparound services aligned to each student’s individual risks, needs, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations."

Professor Fred Silberman, Middlesex Community College, Connecticut

Professor Silberman reported that with the help of MyFoundationsLab, ICTP enabled students to take command of their learning with personalized Learning Paths, abundant feedback, frequent mastery checks, and a variety of resources for assistance when needed.

Intended outcome 3

Students progress to next level of learning.

A survey conducted by researchers at Miami-Dade College illustrated that students believed that  MyFoundationsLab helps them progress to the next level of learning.

In the survey, 98 percent of students “strongly agreed” that MyFoundationsLab prepared them for college-level courses, and 100 percent “strongly agreed” that the product helped prepare them for Florida’s Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT). The Pearson Efficacy and Research teams are currently conducting a quasi-experimental study to investigate differences in outcomes between students who do or do not use MyFoundationsLab. The study will assess achievement in pre-college math and reading skills, progression to the first credit-bearing math course, as well as community college retention and graduation.

Moving forward, Pearson plans to continue researching the overall efficacy of MyFoundationsLab to identify where the product succeeds and what aspects can be improved. A quasi-experimental study is currently being conducted by the research firm SRI International to examine the effectiveness of MyFoundationsLab in college classrooms. The study is taking place in two community colleges, focusing specifically on adult-education courses, and the results will be available to Pearson in fall 2016.

Through this and other studies, Pearson hopes to determine that students have access to learning at appropriate level, complete tasks on time, and ultimately complete the respective course. Furthermore, MyFoundationsLab will have a 2016 update that includes revised GED course content. The GED component of MyFoundationsLab will help students who dropped out of high school advance to higher education institutions, and ultimately achieve their goals.

MyFoundationsLab has ambitious plans to conduct research that will further demonstrate the impact of the program on learner outcomes. For an overview of these plans, please see the accompanying Impact Evaluation Report below.

In 2013, we announced our efficacy initiative to measure the impact that our products and services have on our learners. We committed to publicly report our findings starting in 2018, and to subject those reports to external audit.  We are pleased to release our preliminary reports to share the work we have done so far and what we have planned ahead. The content in these reports reflects the continued refinement of our approach; while our work continues to advance, we are proud to share transparently what we have learned. We anticipate that we will continue to further refine these reports as we approach our 2018 target.

Age/Stage: Higher Education

Type: Courseware

Report Downloads