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  • College student looking at a laptop while studying in a group

    A Partnership for Success: How Carlos de la Lama uses MyLab to empower instructors and students

    Carlos de la Lama has integrated Pearson’s MyLab platform into approximately 80% of the courses he teaches.

    How did Pearson earn pride of place in the curricula of an esteemed higher ed math instructor with decades of experience?

    Carlos attributes his long partnership with Pearson to the strong relationships he has cultivated with Pearson representatives. These connections keep him at the forefront of technological advancements and enable him to utilize MyLab’s many resources to help his students succeed.

    Emphasizing accessible learning materials

    Pearson’s commitment to supporting every learner with accessible content and platforms is a primary reason why MyLab is Carlos’s go-to resource.

    When Carlos was teaching at Southwestern College in 2017, the school updated their accessibility standards and requested that any publisher they work with comply with the new changes.

    Many publishers refused, but Pearson saw SC’s change as an opportunity for growth and collaboration. By partnering with SC, Pearson ensured its platforms were accessible and became one of the few publishers that could provide services to the institution.

    Recently, the commitment to accessibility begun at SC earned Pearson the prestigious Global Certified Accessibly Certification (GCA) from Benetech.

    Balancing structure and customization in math instruction

    As an instructor, Carlos finds MyLab’s wealth of diverse and difficulty-tiered questions unparalleled. This flexibility allows him to tailor assessments and homework to meet the unique needs of his students.

    For example, Carlos strategically deploys MyLab in courses with historically low student success rates, such as Intermediate Algebra. By incorporating MyLab content into assessments and finals, spacing them strategically over weeks, and introducing pre-assessments as non-credit prerequisites, Carlos has been able to significantly improve math test scores, indicating heightened student engagement and mastery.

    For face-to-face courses, Carlos recommends starting small and carefully structuring individualized homework. Emphasizing the development of prerequisites, he believes, has been instrumental in his success.

    In hybrid or online courses, he says the same principles apply, with added considerations for assessment administration and leveraging MyLab resources to foster engagement.

    Helping students find success

    For Carlos, Pearson’s MyLab is an indispensable ally, shaping not only his teaching methodologies but also contributing significantly to increased student success. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, Carlos’s story stands as a beacon for instructors seeking to elevate the learning experience.

    Want to know more? Discover how to transform your teaching with MyLab Math.

  • College students looking at a laptop together on campus steps

    Transforming Education with Revel: Empowering Instructors & Increasing Student Engagement at North Carolina A&T

    By Liz Lebold

    North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina A&T) is the leading public historically black college and university (HBCU). This renowned institution demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusivity with a student body of 13,300, where 89% are underrepresented minorities. Offering an impressive array of 54 undergraduate and 41 graduate degrees, the university provides first-class education to all.

    The key figure in this educator spotlight is Dr. Antoinette Maldonado-Devincci, an instructor at North Carolina A&T since 2016. She has made a remarkable impact on her students by incorporating Revel into her Biological Psychology (PSYC 361) course. Her choice to adopt Revel was driven by its contemporary, student-friendly content, which explores emerging areas like epigenetics.

    Keeping Students Engaged

    However, it's not just the content that makes Revel stand out for Dr. Maldonado-Devincci. She found Revel's interactive features and diverse resources to be highly effective in catering to different learning styles, resulting in increased student engagement. She compares Revel to "MindTap on steroids," highlighting the wealth of resources the platform offers to get students involved in the learning process, such as the shared writing assignments, which replace traditional discussion boards. They foster peer interaction and significantly reduce her grading workload.

    Diversity in Assignment Options

    One of the core strengths of Revel, according to Dr. Maldonado-Devincci, is the ability to provide multiple avenues for students to earn grades outside of traditional testing methods that are less intimidating than standard exams. The platform's iterative approach to learning, alongside bite-sized chunks of content and in-chapter quizzes, fosters a less punitive assessment process than a single high-stakes exam. This approach not only eases the pressure on students but also creates a more supportive and constructive learning environment.

    Diminishing the Grading Burden

    Revel's efficiency simplifies content management and diminishes the burden of grading for Dr. Maldonado-Devincci, allowing her to assign content and quizzes without being overwhelmed by grading responsibilities. The platform's intuitive course creation and management features are user-friendly, benefiting experienced users and adjunct instructors. Dr. Maldonado-Devincci appreciates the convenience Revel offers, making her teaching experience seamless.

    In Dr. Maldonado-Devincci's words, "I appreciate being able to assign all the content and quizzes, so they get more interaction with the material without overloading me when it comes to the grading aspect of it."

    Support for Educators

    Pearson's dedicated support has been pivotal in Dr. Maldonado-Devincci's success with Revel. A Pearson representative provided essential support during course creation and the first semester.

    Dr. Antoinette Maldonado-Devincci's Revel success story at North Carolina A&T underscores the transformative impact of digital learning platforms. A combinations of Revel's engaging content, diverse resources, and Pearson's support have empowered her as an educator and enriched the learning experience for her students.

    Read more about Dr. Maldonado-Devincci's experience with Revel in the full instructor spotlight.

    What can Revel do for you and your students?

    Learn more about Revel.

  • College students listening in a lecture

    The Success of the First-Ever Learning Catalytics Summit

    By Pearson

    At Pearson, we’re always listening to faculty and students and, recently, we kept hearing one refrain over and over — classroom engagement was at an all-time low. Fortunately, we knew just what to do. In fact, we had a solution ready.

    For years, Pearson’s Learning Catalytics interactive student response tool has been helping instructors and students connect in meaningful ways. As soon as we knew classroom engagement was lagging, we knew we needed to host a Learning Catalytics Summit to help more instructors learn how to use — and make the most of — this incredible tool.

    On August 1, we hosted the first-ever Learning Catalytics Summit to great acclaim. Attendees participated in four different webinar sessions hosted by Learning Catalytics experts. Each session focused on a specific advantage of Learning Catalytics, but they all spoke to the ways the student response tool can help instructors see learning as it happens.

    The overall message: Learning Catalytics is a powerful student response and assessment tool. As session-leader Aaron Warnock said, “Learning Catalytics — and I cannot exaggerate — revolutionized my classroom.” Brad Mehrtens concurred in his session, adding, “Learning Catalytics makes a huge difference in student engagement at any scale.”

    How Does Learning Catalytics Work?

    Designed to work on laptops and all common smart devices, Learning Catalytics gives instructors a way to connect directly to students and know when everyone is following a lesson and when some are falling behind. This real-time assessment allows instructors to adjust their teaching in-the-moment and address student confusion before it becomes a problem.

    Learning Catalytics empowers instructors to:

    • Engage students with 18 question types that include graphing, drawing, multiple choice selections, open-ended dialogues, and more
    • Identify misconceptions and monitor responses to find out where students are struggling
    • Facilitate peer-to-peer learning with automatic grouping of students so that every group has a member who understands the material

    These features are available whether the class is in-person or online, making Learning Catalytics useful in every teaching environment. As Brad Mehrtens said about his experience using Learning Catalytics with even difficult-to-connect-with classrooms, “[The students] were there, they were engaged. [Learning Catalytics] works… It’s the only thing that works.”

    What Did the Learning Catalytics Summit Cover?

    The summit’s four unique sessions provided a wealth of information on how Learning Catalytics works and how instructors can use it in all kinds of classroom settings and situations. An hour-long each, the sessions included:

    “Unleashing the Power of Learning Catalytics in a Hybrid Environment” with Aaron Warnock

    Aaron Warnock’s session focused primarily on the way Learning Catalytics’ question-and-answer function helps instructors connect with students and students learn better in hybrid environments. Aaron showed audiences how students can answer questions by drawing graphs, clicking on different regions of an image, highlighting relevant information, evaluating complex problems, or simply filling in a multiple choice answer.

    Aaron noted that the different question types give instructors a lot of flexibility in the ways they monitor student learning. Plus, the questions make it easier to get students to answer without them feeling uncomfortable, because everyone participates and no one feels put on the spot.

    “When I saw Learning Catalytics for the first time, and the eighteen different question types that are available, I was instantly sold,” Aaron said. “It creates a fantastic, engaging learning environment for students.”

    “Transforming Large-Classroom Activities with Learning Catalytics” with Brad Mehrtens

    Being a professor who routinely teaches classes as large as 600 students, Brad Mehrtens understands the challenges of connecting with students. In his session, he spoke to how Learning Catalytics helps him keep students engaged in even the largest lecture halls.

    After regularly watching class attendance dwindle — particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic — he started using Learning Catalytics. He immediately had a much better sense of how well his students were learning and, to his delight, attendance evened out.

    “I was as deflated by the pandemic as anyone was, and Learning Catalytics has made me excited about teaching again,” Brad says. “And I don’t say that lightly. It has completely recharged my battery and made it fun to be back in the classroom”

    “Connecting with Learning Catalytics for Success Throughout Your Course” with Pamela Sandstrom

    A number of years ago, Pamela Sandstrom was using other types of student response tools — but that all changed. “Once I switched [to Learning Catalytics], I’ve never even thought about using any other instant response system because of how much [Learning Catalytics] can do,” she said in her summit session.

    Centered on the ways Learning Catalytics can positively impact a course at multiple moments and in numerous ways, Pamela’s talk discussed how useful the real-time data on student learning is to her instruction.

    “Learning Catalytics provides formative assessment,” she said. “But to me that means that I don’t have to wait till the test, or even till the end of the lecture — [I can see] how they’re doing in the class real time”

    “The Tips and Tricks You Need to Know About Learning Catalytics” with Terry Austin

    During his session, Terry Austin shared his screen to demonstrate exactly how Learning Catalytics works and all the ways he can customize it for the needs of a specific class. As an instructor who has been using Learning Catalytics for a decade, he had a lot of great tips and tricks, ranging from linking Learning Catalytics to a Pearson Mastering class to using it to improve seat maps to incorporating it into classroom presentations.

    “Learning Catalytics is clever,” Terry said, noting how much the tool is capable of doing. As attendees to his session and the summit as a whole learned, he was right. Learning Catalytics can empower instructors to assess student learning in-the-moment, improve student engagement, and make classroom time much more successful.

    As Terry noted, there’s a good reason he’s been using Learning Catalytics for a decade.

  • Man studying in a college library

    Cultivating Empowered Learners: An educator spotlight on Pearson eTextbooks

    By Pearson

    Justin Hoshaw, associate professor of biology at Waubonsee Community College, knows that an educator must always search for more effective ways to support their students’ learning, which is why he has used Pearson's cutting-edge online learning platforms and eTextbooks in his classes for years.

    Recently, Justin and a colleague conducted an extensive evaluation of their microbiology course, which included the consideration of new options for the course’s primary textbook. During their search, they reviewed Microbiology: Basic and Clinical Principles by Lourdes P. Norman-McKay. Both were so impressed with the eTextbook that they were the first educators in the country to adopt it — even before it was officially published.   

    eTextbook features that support student learning

    eTextbooks offer an array of unique features to support students’ learning.

    1. highlight and take notes
    2. search for a specific term or idea
    3. make flashcards based on key concepts
    4. listen to the audio version*

    The benefits of making the switch to eTextbooks

    Previously, Justin encouraged his students to buy the print version of his course’s textbook, but he changed his mind after witnessing the many advantages of eTextbooks for students and educators.

    For students, the ability to highlight and take notes in the eTextbook can help with overall comprehension. And when it’s time to prepare for assessments, they can use their annotations (as well as the learning objectives that accompany each section) to focus their study efforts and maximize their efficiency. As Justin says, “There are some students that are going to go back and reread the whole chapter when studying for an exam. No, let’s go back and look at those highlights. Look at the comments you added into the text. It will save you time. It will help you focus on those important concepts that you’ve already highlighted and already commented on. You are going to be more successful reflecting on that information.”

    The Pearson+ mobile app that offers both the eTextbook and audiobook options is especially beneficial for busy students. The convenience and flexibility of accessing their course materials on the go helps them keep up with their assignments. “There is a benefit to being able to go through and read the text, but then having the audio to listen to as they are reading, I think that really helps reinforce the information for the students. It helps keep them on track,” says Justin.

    As an educator, Justin also finds many of the features of eTextbooks and the Mastering online learning platform helpful, particularly the instructor dashboard. The analytics provided within Mastering Microbiology help him understand how his students are interacting with the eTextbook. “That was something that caused me to take a second look at having students use the eTextbook, the ability for the faculty member to go in and identify how long students have spent reading, how many comments they’ve made, how many highlights they’ve made,” he says. This is valuable information that Justin can use to support students who are struggling or falling behind in the course.

    The feature Justin found most impressive about Norman-McKay's eTextbook in particular was the way the content guided students through the learning process. "What clinched the deal was the study recommendations and coaching throughout the text,” he says. “I had never seen so many tips for students to keep in mind that would help them understand the material. It was as if the instruction was already embedded into the text and coaching them along.”

    Justin’s students agree that the layout of the content and the tone of the writing made them feel more engaged with the information. “They felt like they had a tutor right there with them while they were reading the text, Justin remarks.

    Pearson partners with innovative authors to create enriching experiences that meet learners where they are and inspire them to love learning. Justin’s experiences with Pearson eTextbooks and online learning platforms has convinced him that he made the right choice to switch from print to digital.

     

    *Audiobook available in most titles

  • A teacher pictured from the back gestures at attentive students

    Revolutionizing Education with Revel: Seamless Progress Tracking & Empowered Learning

    By Pearson

    During his more than two decades of teaching, Shawn Davis has spent years searching for the most comprehensive online learning solution for higher education. Now, he believes he’s found it.

    With Revel, Shawn is able to leverage high-quality tools and resources that support his teaching practices as well as his students’ learning processes.

    Support for educators

    Shawn is currently using Revel in his Fundamentals of Psychology course at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). Though he has worked with a variety of online learning platforms over the years — including WebCT, Canvas, and Connect — Revel stood out to him from day one. “It’s a lot smoother platform than I gave it credit for,” he says. “Revel is intuitive to the point where I could really just step right in as an instructor.”

    The combination of a user-friendly interface and Pearson’s comprehensive instructor support materials helped Shawn dive into Revel immediately. This head-start was especially beneficial when the template he was supposed to use for his course suddenly disappeared — on the night before the first day of classes — forcing him to rebuild his entire course from scratch in just a few hours.

    Shawn says that knowing the Pearson support team was available to help him, even in the middle of the night, gave him the confidence to take on this considerable challenge. Though it’s not an experience he wishes to repeat, he was able to get his course up and running in time for his first class.

    Support for students

    One of the most significant obstacles of teaching an online course is keeping students focused and interested. As Shawn has discovered, Revel can help educators address this issue by providing relevant materials and targeted support for students.

    With Revel, instructors can decide how granular they want to go in their course customization. They can “set it and forget it,” or pick and choose the content they want to include. “There are so many parts and pieces with Revel that it gives students the impression that I am extremely engaged and hands-on with them,” Shawn says.

    Revel’s video quizzes feature is one example of a customizable content option that encourages student engagement. The quizzes give students a brief review of key concepts and then have them apply those concepts to novel problems. Based on the results of these quizzes, Revel helps students identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

    Instructors can see students’ video quiz results on the Educator’s Dashboard and then adjust their teaching practices accordingly. “It is a really fast indicator of who is struggling,” says Shawn, “and I have used it to be able to reach out to those students to try to bring them back into the fold.”

    Revel rises to the top

    By efficiently delivering the tools, data, and content that support Shawn and his students, Revel has made the online teaching and learning experience more engaging and effective.

    Read more about Shawn's experience with Revel in the full spotlight.

    What can Revel do for you and your students?

    Learn more about Revel

  • Illustration of two figures jumping with an award

    Pearson Higher Ed Congratulates the 2022 Excellence in Higher Ed Award Winners

    By Pearson

    At Pearson, we are committed to helping students improve their life through learning and provide the instructors with the tools to help them be successful. We are devoted to creating effective, engaging solutions that create opportunities for students at every stage of the learning journey. By combining trusted author content with digital tools and a flexible platform, we personalize the learning experience and improve results for each student. 

    In 2022, we introduced the Pearson Excellence in Higher Ed awards to recognize faculty who demonstrate the essence of what it means to be an educator today. Over 200 faculty across the country were nominated by their peers and students for recognition in five categories. This year’s winners embody the values of Pearson and their outstanding achievements. The heartfelt submission stories illustrate not only their foundational values but how they translate that passion for all students.   

    “The Pearson Excellence in Higher Ed awards are peer nominated awards that represent and identify passionate and outstanding educators who have made significant impact on students and others.  It has been a delight reading the hundreds of heartwarming nominations that we have received, and we’re honored to announce this year’s winners” said Brad Parkins, Pearson Director of Marketing, Brand and Thought Leadership. 

    Without further ado, it is with immense honor that we announce the winners for the inaugural 2022 Pearson Excellence in Higher Ed awards!  

    • Outstanding Integration of DE&I: Emily Simpson, Midwestern University   - “In addition to fostering a welcoming environment, Dr. Simpson is dedicated to preparing students to work with diverse populations and advocate for DE&I within their future workplaces.” – A. Kiraly-Alvarez
    • Outstanding Student Engagement: Professor Rachel Bailey-Wood, University of Missouri - “Professor Bailey’s instruction uniquely centers her students’ humanity while engaging them in high levels of applicable learning.” – A. Thompson 
    • Outstanding Teaching Throughout the Pandemic: Dr. Elizabeth Dulemba, Winthrop University  - "Her energies were not daunted during the pandemic. She created new course offerings... and created a new Illustration Minor.” – E. Koehler
    • Outstanding Use of Courseware Technology: Christine Minor, Clemson University  - “Dr. Minor stays at the forefront of what is available in educational technology and often acts as a mentor in our department for others that are using technology in their classrooms.” – Dr. DeWalt 
    • Pearson Digital Platforms: Yoelvis Rodriguez, Miami Dade College  - “Yoelvis is an influencer…. He is a leader among the adjuncts, and they respect his advice and experience. In addition, college wide, Yoelvis chairs an EAP technology committee.” – C. Schuemann
  • Teacher presenting in a lecture hall.

    A conversation with Lone Star College - Kingwood math professor, Mari Menard

    By Mari Menard

    In March 2023, the Pearson Math & Stats team had the pleasure of speaking with Lone Star College–Kingwood Mathematics professor, Mari Menard. In the conversation below, hear how she came to teach math after a failed attempt at Medical Tech school, and a few other lessons regarding teaching higher education that she has learned over the years. She also talks a little about the features in MyLab Math she likes the most, and why she changes things up every semester. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

    Pearson Math & Stats Team:

    What made you want to become an instructor?

    Mari Menard (MM)

    That's the funniest thing. When I first started my career, I thought, “I’m out of high school, what now?” I was going to go into the medical field, and what I soon found out, it wasn't for me. Some of the classes I was going to have to take over again. So, I dropped out and decided to come back to college a year later. My mom was the one who told me to do math. However, I could not multiply in grade school, as I had to go to what they called Resource Math. And only there did I learn how to multiply.

    So, when I went back to school, my college advisor asked me if I had taken trig or any of the other classes. I told him, “No, I don't really even know what trig is”. His feeling was, “Well, then that is where we are going to start. And if you don't do well in calculus, then I need you to really rethink your degree plan.” So, right there I thought to myself, I'm going to show you. I am going to really show you.

    From there, two main things happened. First, he ended up being my calculus instructor (and there were several other classes I took with him). Then, second, when I was in my graduate degree program, I graded for his calculus students, which was was interesting. As I was working, we learned (especially in calculus), it's a good idea to get a group of people together to study. Inevitably, I would be the one that would be at the chalkboard. I was answering the questions and the students that were there to study would be the ones asking me questions. And well, I was thinking I am pretty good at this. At first I had thought I would be at a high school. But then I was like, “You know, no, I don't really think I want that.” And so I've never taught anywhere but in college. (laughs)

    I like to say I've never left college since I returned in 1992. I always say people retire after they teach and they still end up teaching. I think my main thing was when I was helping other students when we were studying Cal 1, Cal 2, Cal 3...all the way through differential equations...I was the one always at the board working the questions and answering questions.

    Good

    Pearson:

    Go back to before you became an instructor. What in life led you to want to do med school?

    MM:

    So the degree plan was called ‘medical technology’, and I was studying to be a Medical Technologist. I'm not sure if you know what those are, but I worked in a lab at a hospital. My mother's a nurse. My brother's a nurse. My brother-in-law is a nurse. So, people in my family were in the health field and I loved working in the lab. I was a phlebotomist for several years. I drew people's blood in the hospital. So, the person in charge of the laboratory where the blood and other bodily things go is the Medical Technologist. They do lab work, microbiology, and things like that. I thought, well, that sounds like me. I would love that. So, I was working in the lab and I come to find out there's certain things I cannot handle, and one of them is mucus. Mucus and I do not get along. (laughs)

    This is one thing a lot of students don't realize; you should get involved in the career path you're thinking about. I was so happy I did because I saw how the lab worked. And it wasn't just these random blood samples and people, you know, it was people's bodily fluids coming our way. Or from people that, for example, lost a leg; there would be body parts. And the smell of formaldehyde. And if you can't handle that stuff, then the lab is not the place for you. And that's how I soon learned it was not the place for me.

    Pearson:

    That's great. Thank you for indulging us.

    MM:

    Oh no, that's perfect, because people wonder, “how do you go from one to the next?” But it is also why I have a minor in biology. (laughs)

    Pearson:

    What courses are you currently teaching, and are there any that you've taught in the past that you don't teach now but want to teach again? Or are you kind of good with where your career is taking you and these are the ones that you enjoy the most?

    MM:

    I think so. I've only taught at the college level before, never at a university, and always at a 2-year college. I lead into that because most of your colleges were just on the freshman and sophomore level math anyway. So, when the developmental education thing was going on that was when I started, and am now in my 22nd plus year of teaching.

    I used to love teaching pre-algebra because they (students) would follow me. So, I would teach pre-algebra, and then they would follow me to introductory and intermediate college algebra and so on. And you can see them growing and doing well.

    In Texas, we now have corequisites, and it's six courses total, and they're taking two math classes. Which means, developmental math students are taking their developmental math class and their credit level class at the same time. They're trying to do math in both classes. And if they don't understand, the developmental course should be first so that it helps them with the credit level. So, I like corequisites and the credit level, provided it's a cohort of students. I could have students like I have in a credit level business math class. I have corequisite students in there, but I also have students that don't need corequisites, so it's called ‘co-mingled’.

    But, currently, I teach what we call business math. I love it. It's by far one of my favorite classes to teach. It was the hardest to find corequisite content for because you want to find word problems since they encounter a lot of word problems in that class.

    And I'm currently back teaching trig and precal, which I love too. We're going to do trig identities next class. I said I can do these forever. I could do every trig identity that I come across and still do more because I like them so much. And the students often say that’s not good because if you like it, then we know we're not going to like it. But, I’m thinking you don't know that.

    The one (course) I wish I taught that I haven't taught in a while is the business calculus class. But I guess the best way to say the reason for that is the students. They don't appreciate what that class shows. It shows the whole purpose of business. It doesn't just get into the revenue and the cost and all that stuff, but it shows what happens as things change. Just tiny little changes and what it can do to the business. But for a lot of students, unfortunately, I don't know if it has to do with COVID or just with all the technology that’s available, they just say why can't we just use our calculator? And, well, your calculator can't tell somebody if the slope is negative, and what that means in the context of their business. If you're saying, “Oh, I'm good, but your cost is constantly going up, and if your profit is constantly going down, how are you good? And if you don't even understand the difference between revenue, cost and profit? Then how are you good?” And so, yeah, I try to get them in the finite class. By that I mean the math for business class before they get to the business calculus class so that they have the understanding of how important it is regarding all these aspects of it. And it is a word problem which they hate. But life is a word problem. (laughs)

    Pearson:

    What is one best practice that you use that you think works really well and you would want to share with others, whether it's in a classroom setting, working in groups, or working one-on-one with a new teaching technology?

    MM:

    It's kind of funny because every semester I change things, which I guess is one of my best practices. I'm always asking for student feedback. Not how I teach, but what I use in terms of resources or what I use to calculate their grade. So, here’s an example...

    Previously, I used MyLab Math homework as a bonus option. The minute students hear bonus they think, “oh, I don't have to do it!” So, then none of them were doing anything. Of course, when they take a test they wonder [if there’s any bonus point opportunities], but by then it's kind of too late.

    Last semester I used homework as a bonus, where I had discussion boards in our online learning platform as a graded assignment in the face-to-face class. And one of my students at the end of the semester said it makes no sense that we're doing a discussion board and a face-to-face class. I asked them, “what if I use it as bonus?” And she said, ‘’yes, because then it's something that's not going to hurt us. It can only help us.” So I asked her, “what about the homework?” And she replied, “that's the stuff you need to grade, because if we don't know what we're doing, then by the time we take the test or do the practice test or do quizzes and MyLab Math work, then we haven't learned anything.” She, of course, was a student that did really well. She was doing all of the things, you know. But I even had students that didn't do the homework, so the homework needs to be part of the grade.

    And I thought, “Hmmm, how do I do that?” So, I made homework for some of my sections but not all. When we teach 30 sections, you can't have homework for every section. I usually base it on anywhere between two and five sections; it just depends on the course. I designated MyLab Math homework for one, and then I tell them it's over sections, let's say sections one through five. I provide the media options (which I love by the way) and then there's questions that they'll work on. What I tell them is if you can't do these and I have to help, I will turn the example off, because I think they just try to find a shortcut way to compare them and then just put the answer in there. I also tried giving them an unlimited number of times for each question, which I've determined was not a good thing.

    Students love to circumnavigate me, and try to find an easy way to solve what I've done. So what they're doing, I fully believe is, they're just hitting the reiterations until they see a question they've already done and they're not really learning it. They're just trying to regurgitate it. Which isn't going to help them. And this is why I'm still getting students making hundreds on the homework but making a 20 on my test.

    I think then my best practice is realizing that change is not a bad thing. I always tell people I learned that through COVID. Change is never bad, especially if it's going to improve things. Or not necessarily improve, but enhance what I already do.

    Pearson:

    Do you feel the pandemic helped students, that they think more conceptually, and that you are able to use content like the pandemic within the classroom and relates it to their day-to-day, and how? Also, was there an increased interest in that topic or were you caught up in noticing that there were a lot of students falling behind?

    MM:

    Unfortunately, I think that's what happened. So, I just had a test last week and I have never had what happened happen before. I think it was five students, and with three of them, the minute they saw their test, they were like so when am I going to be able to do a retest? One of them e-mailed me and said they weren't feeling well. They wanted me to send the test. I guess so he could take the test at home? I think some of that behavior has come out of COVID, in terms of what students expectations are, and I like to say what they can get away with. I think they're relearning just as we are.

    Like now, for me, I am much more mellow about things like the student that wanted me to e-mail him the test so he could take it home. I laughed for a full day. I mean, I just laughed. Because, who does that? I mean, who does that?! Essentially, he wanted me to e-mail him the test so he could take it, and this was a trig student. So after I laughed about it, I referred him to the syllabus and how I offer makeups, and that you can take the makeup test at the testing center here at the college. The test was on Thursday and I gave him through yesterday to take it again. But, I haven’t heard back from him, and he didn't come to class today. Oh, and another student, he slept through the exam. So, you know... (laughs)

    So, is it that the students have really changed? I don't think so. I've experienced all kinds of things in the 20 years I've been teaching. But are they a little more interesting as to what their expectations are? Definitely! Where are they getting this idea they can do retakes? Well, I fully believe that that's what happened in high school. Because they were just trying to make it through high school, you know, and I understand that. But it's now college and I've even learned some of the universities now are going back to what it was like pre-COVID. And it's taking some of the other colleges a little longer.

    Pearson:

    In your opinion, what is higher education going to look like in the next two to three years? Is it a little bit of revisiting the past moving forward, while also trying to reuse what you've learned about what their expectations are around bonus work, regular homework, test retakes, etc.?

    MM:

    My thing is if they want to take a test at home, then take an online class. Some instructors are allowing students to take tests at home. But for me, I have an online trade class. Their tests are all taken through MyLab Math. There's no testing center. They can take it through a date range. You have to submit your work, as there are regular expectations. So moving forward, I'm not stuck on if this is how I'm going to do it for the rest of my career scenario. But, again, I'm constantly changing, which I think is stupid on my part sometimes because then I have to work at things every semester. (laughs)

    Currently, I have no videos to use, which is irritating me a little. At the moment, I am just using publisher videos, such as Pearson's videos and all the other things that students have resources for. I had planned on doing that, making videos and everything but... This semester there's been no time between fall and spring. So, am I going to make some videos over the summer? Heck yes I am!

    But for me, it's always just actively asking students how things went. I think I have things set up pretty good in terms of this is one of my favorite things. I've learned to say certain things to students because students will say, “when am I ever going to use this?” And I say, “let me just tell you. In this world, we all usually will have a job, and the requirements of your job are pretty clear.”

    So for me, my expectations, are that when you continue on, if you need to learn whatever it is I'm supposed to teach you in this class, you've got it. But, I also want to make sure that I teach student learning outcomes. So you may not like linear programming or probability or set theory or trigonometric in identities. But, it's my responsibility to teach you. I'm going to do that to the best of my ability. I provide you with things to help you along the way, learning from videos, lectures, and notes. I have booklets. I have PowerPoints. I have all the things, you know, homework, and quizzes, to see how things go. And if you have that learning, then I will put down a check mark and I'm doing my job. Then I can move on.

    Pearson:

    Finally, are there two or three big things you think everybody should use or the reasons you use it? Such as the videos you were talking about creating yourself and having those inserted into the lesson(s), or is that something you would like to be able to do so that it's interchangeable with the content that Pearson provides?

    MM:

    I love the ability to change or to do what I want to with MyLab Math.

    For instance, I insert my logo, which some say who cares? The college, you know, they're making my theme, the colors, the layout and changing the names of things, integrating it with our learning management platform and all the resources. So, one of the ones that most folks, and they call it different things based on the publisher, but they'll have guided notes or something like that. I've actually taken them and made them my own. So, I still put Pearson on the bottom, and I also use the Beecher Book, and I use the precal Sullivan book.

    Students don't need a whole bunch of stuff. Sometimes the problem is they get too much stuff. They'll go out and find YouTube, Khan Academy, and various other things to try and learn one thing. And so now they've seen it five or six different ways. And I wonder how is it helping you? That's just going to confuse you. So I have Pearson. Nice and sweet. I’ve got somebody's other way in which to do it, and I have my way. From there, I include a quiz within it. So, I like that idea! Then Pearson is a just a great resource scenario, such as the pooling option. Don't get rid of the pooling option! (laughs) That by far is my favorite things. I do a practice test and their test, and I believe there's a strong correlation with how I have the practice test set up to the grade they actually make on my test.