We’ve all been there. We sit down to watch a movie. The storyline is a little slow in the beginning and our minds start to drift. As we try to bring our attention back to the screen, we decide we’re a little hungry. We get up and go to the kitchen to make a snack, all the while telling ourselves that we didn’t need to pause the movie because we can hear it in the kitchen. We return to the living room and settle-in to watch the movie as we munch on our pizza rolls and soda. The food rouses little Gizmo from underneath the couch and she sneaks out to investigate the enticing aroma. We offer her part of our snack and give her a little scratch behind the ears. Before we know it, we are involved in an all-out tug-of-war with a 10 pound ball of fur. The movie is long forgotten.
Now replace the movie in this scenario with the carefully constructed video lessons that you have created for your students so that they would be eager to delve into the latest lesson on solving equations or factoring polynomials. The truth is that most students endure video lectures as a means to an end but struggle to stay engaged enough to absorb the material. It would be easy to say that this is just an issue for developmental or freshmen level students. The harsh reality is that it is true at all levels in all subjects. I witnessed first-hand as my son, who was finishing a master’s degree in Biosystems Engineering, struggled to stay awake while watching online lectures for a required statistics course which was only offered in an online format. He would stop every ten minutes, literally take a lap around the house, and then sit down to try and watch a few more minutes.
While there is no universal solution to this difficulty for students, we can supply them with tools which will help to mitigate the time lost to distracted viewing. When I created full lesson videos for my online students several years ago (pre-covid), I included colorful guided notes to help them stay engaged with the material. Using PDF files deployed in our learning management system, I supply my students with word-for-word, picture-for-picture materials that match the video they are watching. I have strategically placed blanks and empty boxes on these guided pages, so that the student must fill-in-the-blank as they watch the video. If their mind begins to wander, they will miss a blank or box and will have to rewind to get the needed information. Sometimes the blanks are words that are being said in the audio. Sometimes the boxes are specific letters or numbers that are relative to the problem being shown. It is important to include three keys for creating and successfully implementing guided notes in your course: Color, Active Learning, and Grading.
I believe the end of the Spring Term for most higher education instructors is when we are on our last nerve.
We have survived Fall with all the newbies, both colleagues and students. We’ve participated in all the required, seemingly endless, often less than engaging in-services, including one more course on cyber security. We’ve attended all required faculty meetings and served on committees ranging from book selections to searches for new faculty. We’ve updated courses, copied courses, and graded all the work in those courses. As instructors we responded to students’ extra needs ranging from academic mentoring to providing referrals for students struggling with work, home, school, illness, and financial losses. We’ve done this without wavering, well almost without, for 9 months and that summer vacation is within sight.
But wait, in these last few weeks before we reach that holy grail of vacation time, we will wrap up the year with departmental reports, assessments by our accrediting bodies, and institutional reviews. On top of all of that, instructors are bombarded with end of term student pleas to give them extra credit so they can pass. And if they don’t pass, they tell us it’s all our fault their futures will be bleak.
Stress, who’s stressed???? I was, and often still am. I need something to take my frustrations and irritations down a notch, so I can make it down the home stretch without saying something to anyone I would later regret. I turn to purposeful living and the practice of staying in the moment by focusing on the tangibles of the five senses. Let me share a few suggestions you can take as a jumping off point, don’t take that literally, and then make these sensory grounding moments your own.
Classic studies have revealed how important human touch is for us to thrive. Yet, Covid and a desire to be appropriate with others in all ways may have curtailed our natural impulses to give someone a hug, a squeeze of the hand, or a pat on the back. However, there are many ways to use touch as a safe focus point if interpersonal touch is unavailable. I have found great comfort in kneading dough, digging in the dirt in my garden, or immersing myself in a pool. Skin is the organ of touch, and we all have lots of skin. So, arms, legs, fingers, and toes all count and help us focus our attention on the amazing feeling of something like wriggling our toes in the sands at the edge of a body of water.
Beyond hearing your colleagues out, take a few moments to stop the noise and really listen. Don’t just hear, listen! Wherever you are, there is life happening around you with all its remarkable cacophony. Single out each sound, identify it, and then keep singling out and identifying. Don’t judge the sounds as good or bad, just life happening outside of your head. Write each down. You’ll be surprised by the lack of the worry noise that was in your head a few minutes earlier.
If you don’t have the time to take in a museum, my personal recommendation, or you aren’t near a beach to watch the ocean waves, look around your space. What have you chosen to decorate your environment? Do those things bring joy when you look at them? If not, you might choose to redecorate a bit. Or you might add a flower in a vase to that otherwise over-populated desktop. Deliberately look at something that brings up good feelings. It might be as simple as the tree outside, or the color of the sky. Really think about what you are seeing and take the time to notice all the details. And then, write these down.
Concentrating on smell stimulates many regions of the brain. Smell is one of the most powerful and evocative of our senses. Memories flow freely when we focus on the scents around us. There’s a very good reason fortunes are being made with aromatherapy. Essential oils offer a quick fix for many symptoms of stress like headaches. A diffuser in the area where you encounter the most stress may alleviate some symptoms. And, if a diffuser won’t work where the stress lives, rub a little oil on your wrist for a little unobtrusive sniffing when you feel the tide of irritations rising. Also, just noticing the smells around you can transport you to other times and other places where you encountered similar scents.
Last, but certainly not least, this one bears some self-restraint. Once started, you need to be alert to comfort eating that may result in more of you than you wish. I really try to have a good meal with colleagues as often as possible during the final days of school. Potlucks are even better. Everyone has to eat lunch at some point, so arrange an end of the term potluck to savor and relish each other’s offerings. Talk about the flavors, seasonings, and what each reminds you of. Share your memories over a shared meal. Some of my happiest memories of teaching involve our faculty lounge, the whiteboard with signups and snarky comments. In addition, consider the community and collegiality of being on the same ship bailing for all we’re worth to get to that vacation.
So, take these suggestions and truly make them the moments of your choosing. Moments focused on good tangible sensory stimulation lead to minutes, which lead to hours and days to weeks to months to years. And voila! Your life has been populated with many moments that you counted and turned into moments that mattered. CAUTION!!! Once you start this habit of being in the moments of your life using your senses, you may never come back to the mundane world of endless invasive and worrisome thinking.
“Has difficulty paying attention, lacks attention to details, loses focus quickly when doing tasks, doesn’t follow through, has difficulty staying organized.” These are some classic signs of ADHD – and people were talking about me that way. ADHD is challenging in almost any situation, but for me, it was especially hard when it came to schoolwork and studying.
Nothing could hold my attention long enough. I felt guilty and angry with myself all the time. Why wasn’t I passing the class all my friends said was just easy memorization? Why did I waste so much time on unimportant things when I could have been studying? Why were all my study guides nonsensical? How did I lose so many important assignments?
At first, college overwhelmed me
I didn’t expect college to be as hard as it was. I had been pretty good at balancing my schedule in high school, when my routine was the same every day. All my friends were always in the same place, and my parents were there to worry I was fed or getting into trouble.
In college I felt immense pressure to balance everything. Making sure I spent enough time out with my friends and enough time studying and doing homework. Making sure my room was clean enough and that I ate at least once that day. I quickly became overwhelmed. Diving into schoolwork was harder than it had ever been. It got to the point where getting ready to study often required even more effort than actually studying.
Getting ready meant creating my own flash cards and study guides, coming up with problems to quiz myself with, going back to re-read and highlight things. My list of “to-dos” spiraled out of control. It began to feel easier to just do nothing at all.
The guilt was the worst part. I knew I was capable of studying, I knew I had the ability to read and write and form cohesive thoughts, but I just didn’t. I couldn’t. I’d never felt more like a failure. Time and time again, different professors told me the same thing: If I wasn’t putting in the work outside of the classroom, how did I expect to excel?
I had more help than I ever realized
Then, one of my teachers sat down with me and finally understood what I was dealing with. Then she pulled up the MyLab platform and walked me through all the personalized study tools Pearson offered me.
She showed me practice problems and progress checks to help me figure out exactly what I needed to work on, so it was easier to set priorities and I didn’t have to worry about everything. I realized I didn’t have to come up with my own problems to answer.
I didn’t even have to create my own study guide: MyLab built one for me, and personalized it based on all the homework, quizzes, and tests I’d already done. That way, I’d spend the most time – and get the most new practice questions – exactly where I needed the most help. Even if I wasn’t struggling with ADHD, it would have taken me a very long time to build a study guide that useful – but MyLab gave it to me practically instantly.
All the extra work I felt I needed to do to succeed, even before I started to study? Pearson had already done it for me. If I couldn’t bring myself to re-read information, there were videos I could watch. Anytime I wanted, I could search for videos. If I didn’t understand why I had gotten a practice problem wrong, there were videos with step-by-step instructions explaining what to do and why I needed to do it that way. Even before I ran into a problem I couldn’t solve, there were videos for the complicated concepts I wasn’t sure of. Any time I needed help, it was like someone at Pearson had read my mind and put together a video just for me.
Most important and useful for my studying experience? MyLab’s practice quizzes. I took them over and over and over again. I especially liked the Dynamic Study Modules. Pearson found a way to gently help you get to the right answer without penalizing you for not already knowing everything.
If you’re positive you know the right answer, you double-click that option. If you’re right, Pearson will tell you, and you can move on to other content. But if you’re not sure, you can either single-click the option that might be right, or just click “I don’t know.” It’s like answering “halfway.” Then, Pearson will show you the right answer and present a bit of text from your eTextbook explaining it. It won’t cost you any points, even if you’re wrong. Later on, you’ll get a similar question, and this time, you’ll probably be more confident of the right answer. By the time I was done working with Pearson’s quizzes, I felt confident enough to tutor some of my friends.
The help just keeps on coming – and I know it’s underutilized because I certainly hadn’t realized it was all there. There’s the Homepage Calendar that tells you exactly when everything’s due, so it’s easier to plan your week. There’s the “Show Me an Example” button that walks you through an example or a process even before you encounter it in a problem.
I’m finishing my last course right now, and I’ll be graduating in May 2023. My experience with Pearson MyLab was so positive that, after I graduate, I’ll be taking a job with Pearson. I’m thrilled that, in my new role, I’ll get to help move MyLab forward, and encourage more students to take advantage of it. I have a very personal motivation. I want struggling college students to know what I discovered: with these tools, studying with ADHD doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming anymore.
There is so much breadth and depth to what Pearson can do to help you and your students achieve the best learning outcomes. Consider the following features and benefits that eTextbooks offer. And learn why a growing audience of instructors and students are taking advantage of our remarkable Pearson+ subscription capabilities. In fact, nearly 5 million subscribers have embraced the Pearson+ subscription platform.
To begin, we will focus on eTextbooks. They are more popular than ever. Don’t just take our word for it. A great deal of research over the past five years shows that well-designed digital content can be understood as effectively as print and offers added benefits for students.*
Remember, not all of your students are fully acquainted with all the capabilities of eTextbooks. Take the time at the beginning of your next course to be sure you communicate all the features and benefits of any new eTextbook, as well as Pearson+.
In many cases digital eTextbooks are up to 80% cheaper than traditional printed textbooks. With our Pearson+ platform, students can subscribe to their course etextbooks at one low monthly rate or pay for the semester upfront. At the end of their subscription term, students have the flexibility to cancel, renew, or change titles to accommodate their learning needs. Pearson offers a range of features that appeal to a variety of learning styles. The user experience is elegant and intuitive. Naturally that means the navigation makes it easy for students to make their way through the content. Many of our etextbook titles have embedded audio and video to engage students and help them understand difficult concepts in the course. Full audiobooks are available for most titles which can help with comprehension, retention, and gives students the option to listen on the go.
In addition, no one should underestimate the value of adjusting the speed of any audio. Certain students may choose a slower speed, but many prefer to accelerate the audio for more efficiency. In addition, a student listening may strengthen comprehension further and even activate the highlighting of the text in sync with the audio.
Interactive features like charts and diagrams make it easier for students who may prefer to explore and analyze such engaging visuals.
Interactivity strengthens how students study
Markup and additional interactive features make it easier for studying than ever before. They can customize the display of content. And students are happy to know that once they return to any content, the eTextbook remembers where they left off and the learner can dive right back in.
Additional benefits for studying include:
Create your own flashcards
Adjusting the point size of the text
And the robust enhanced search engine even offers an excellent sub-menu referencing groupings of relevant videos, key terms and interactive media. In fact, Pearson+ is exploring a possible new etextbook feature regarding the way students learn, from an individual experience to a social one. Students can see who else is studying, start discussions and post links and videos. The social experience within the eTextbook is global, giving all users the ability to engage. The experience is not limited to students in a certain class at a specific university.
Encourage your students to learn in the way they learn best.
A study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that when students take courses that engage digitally and in-person, content mastery can occur twice as quickly, and pass rates for at-risk students can increase by 33%.
Pearson+. Anywhere, anytime
The Pearson+ subscription platform is the ideal way students can access eTextbooks. Among other compelling features, with Pearson+ they can consolidate all their eTextbooks, videos, audio, study tools, and supportive content all in one place. Naturally, this allows your students to work more efficiently.
There’s an app for this
With the Pearson+ mobile app, students can pick up at any point where they left off and learn on the go. Learners can easily read offline right in our app. So they can have more freedom to make the most of their day. Here are some of the main reasons the platform and the app are so appealing.
Once selected, they have immediate access to the content. Students can learn on the go (with online and offline access). They can learn with their eTextbooks wherever life takes them. Pearson+ offers students instant access to their eTextbooks, videos and study tools, all in one place. With easy access through a subscription or their MyLab® or Mastering® course, our intuitive interface, enhanced search, highlights, notes, and audiobooks allow them to choose how they learn best.
Meet your students where they are
So why not meet students where they are, figuratively and literally. Everyone knows they are often on the run. The content is optimized for a learner’s phone or another mobile device. It’s a no-brainer for today’s tech-savvy generation. Your students are certainly accustomed to processing information from smart phones and other mobile devices.
We are also mindful of working learners. The convenience of Pearson+ gives them the flexibility to learn wherever and whenever best suits their needs and their busy work schedule. Any student on the go can listen to an eTextbook while cooking, cleaning, driving or while tackling whatever task happens to be in front of them.
Lastly, be sure to take full advantage of our grade-technology too. It’s a familiar feature for your class and a time-saver for you. So you can focus on additional priorities.
Go ahead. Be the best instructor you can be. Learn more about eTextbooks and Pearson+ today.
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.
Go back to before you became an instructor. What in life led you to want to do med school?
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.
That's great. Thank you for indulging us.
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)
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?
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)
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.?
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.
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?
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.
For instructors and students alike, the path to success has become far more challenging. Students are arriving with different life and learning priorities, and varying levels of preparation. Everyone’s working harder, in the face of greater obstacles and deeper uncertainty. Instructors and students both need more effective support, in an era where resources are scarce. Courseware has always been a key resource, but today it needs to deliver more than ever. This makes your courseware decisions even more crucial.
Great courseware doesn’t just happen: everything about it is intentional. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how we're delivering on three of Pearson’s core priorities for building courseware that helps instructors and learners thrive – outcomes, equity, and accessibility.
Achieve the outcomes that matter
The most important outcomes are those that learners and instructors want, to help them realize the lives they imagine. Our outcome-based design processes help us understand and identify those upfront, as a “north star” to keep all of us aligned and on track.
When we say “all of us,” we’re talking about a wide array of world-class, cross-disciplinary experts all working together, including:
Learning scientists who ensure our products reflect the latest, best evidence on what helps students learn, helps instructors teach, helps people effectively use technology, and helps promote career progress
User experience and content professionals who build and evolve engaging and personalized digital learning platforms, maximize relevance, and present material in powerfully compelling ways
Assessment experts who embed opportunities for continual student progress assessment, and identify opportunities to improve our products
6,000+ trusted authors who bring their unique voices and cutting-edge knowledge -- so students never forget they’re learning from other remarkable human beings.
Responding to a goal of reducing developmental prerequisites in college-level math and statistics, UMGC faculty assessed Pearson’s MyLab® and an OER alternative through a 2.5-year pilot encompassing 12 instructors and 6,500 students. Based on the pilot’s remarkable results, UMGC has rolled out MyLab widely. That’s translated into dramatic improvements: from 60% to 80% student success in statistics and from 50% to 80% in algebra compared with OER.
Faculty evaluations have improved, too. Freed from grading, instructors had more time to guide individual students, and they also had richer data to tailor courses around their needs.
UMGC’s experience is just one example of how Pearson’s outcome-based design is rooted in superior learning science is helping real learners. Outcomes like these thrill us – they’re why we do what we do.
Extend great learning to everyone
At Pearson, the words “diversity, equity, and inclusion” aren’t cliches or trendy buzzwords. They’re a way of life deeply grounded in beliefs we’ve held for generations: Every individual can benefit from learning, and learning is a powerful force for positive change. Everyone should be welcomed into learning. Everyone should have a fair opportunity to learn, and learning should work for all students.
What matters more than our beliefs is what we do about them. We’ve built, and we enforce, comprehensive policies for making sure we authentically, inclusively, and respectfully represent people of all kinds. We are committed to minimizing bias. Our content celebrates diverse identities and lived experiences (see some complimentary examples here). We draw on many best practices and frameworks to provide high-quality inclusive content. We offer practical ways to report and dialogue about potential bias in our products.We do all of this so that our products are more inclusive, more relevant, and more accurate. Our DE&I approach to content development results in better products that center learners and increase student engagement.
Finally, we understand that effectively embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in our work is a journey. We honor and promote DE&I internally, to ensure that our offerings are created by teams who reflect those we serve. We’re proud to have earned the Human Rights Campaign’s “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” award, inclusion in Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index, and a top grade in the Disability Equality Index, the most comprehensive benchmark for disability inclusion.
By doing all this, we’re serving learners’ demands. Our 2021 Global Learner Survey found that 80% of learners were trying to educate themselves about issues related to social justice, diversity or gender equality, rising to 84% among millennials and 85% among Gen Z.
Ensure accessibility to meet everyone’s potential
For too long, people were excluded from full access to education based on disabilities that were irrelevant to their potential. We’re determined to overcome that, one individual at a time. Our commitment is woven into our learning materials, development processes, innovation efforts, employee culture, and partnerships.
More specifically: We follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 guidelines and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act for products copyrighted 2022 or later. We’ve established comprehensive accessibility standards for creating products that are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. We’ve built a roadmap for addressing accessibility issues in our existing MyLab and Mastering courses, and we’re doing extensive audits to remove barriers elsewhere. Our teams participate in rigorous, ongoing accessibility training. As of this writing, we offer nearly 900 accessible eTextbooks, and we’re working with T-Base Communications to accelerate delivery of top-selling Pearson titles in braille and reflowed large print.
Finally, to make sure we truly understand what learners need, we work closely on an ongoing basis with key members of the disability and advocacy community, and with organizations such as W3C, DIAGRAM Center, DAISY Consortium, Benetech, and the National Federation of the Blind.
Get what your learners deserve
Delivering on these commitments to outcomes, equity, and accessibility requires extensive resources, skills, and commitment. Not all of the world’s courseware reflects these values. But we think today’s learners should expect no less – and neither should you.