The results from the university’s placement exam showed that the then-18-year-old Rialto resident faced taking two developmental math classes in the fall and winter before she would be eligible to take the required math classes for college credit.
Or, Padron, who is the first to admit that math is not one her strong points, could spend five weeks of her summer taking Cal State San Bernardino’s highly successful Intensive Mathematics Program.
“When I saw the name – Intensive Mathematics Program – I thought I was going to eat, sleep and breathe pure math. It was going to be hard, and there went my summer,” said Padron.
Dreading the idea of two quarters of developmental classes and needing the help in math, she chose the summer program.
But what Padron didn’t know was that the CSUSB Intensive Mathematics Program has a better than 90 percent success rate, and for more than a decade has successfully helped incoming students master entry level mathematics so they could move on to the required general math classes needed for graduation, said Qiana Wallace, co-director of retention projects at Cal State San Bernardino.
The program recently received a $50,000 grant from the Southern Education Foundation. The Atlanta, Ga., -based national organization engages colleges and universities to improve student success and degree completion. SEF aims to promote innovative and effective practices by testing existing programs, performing campus demonstrations, and assessing the effectiveness of promising academic interventions.
In a collaborative fashion, SEF coalesces the best thinking and practices to address common and persistent problems related to degree completion. CSUSB’s IMAP program is being tested and considered as a model that can be adopted by other campuses.
For Padron, the program delivered what it advertised. From the start, the focus was on math. In the morning until noon, the students received an extended lecture on a specific math concept. After an hour lunch break, the students were divided into smaller groups with intensive support from tutors and spent the afternoon working on problems designed to reinforce the concept they learned that morning.
“The tutors used methods that pertained to real life so that we would really understand it. We went step-by-step with even the littlest things – even two plus two is four, she explained to us,” Padron said. “How did I understand this material in 20 days rather than two years of high school?”
The pattern was repeated for a total of 10 days and then the students were given the same final exam they would get during a typical math course with a required passing grade of C or better. The passing students would be allowed to take the second half of the course using the same format with an exam at the end.
“Students who successfully complete both sections of Intensive Mathematics Program are deemed fully remediated and are able to begin GE (general education) math in their first term in the fall,” Wallace said.
J. Milton Clark, the university’s associate vice president for undergraduate studies, said the Southern Education Foundation’s grant will be used to examine all aspects of the program, including the outcomes for participating students. Clark said he expects at least two concrete benefits.
“First, we will come away with a clear sense of what makes the program work and learn whether there are any elements of the program we can strip away or enhance,” Clark said. “Second, other institutions will have an opportunity to see what we have been doing to get students through several levels of developmental mathematics so they can begin their first year at the university fully prepared to do college-level work.
“We are excited about working with the staff at the Southern Education Foundation to validate the effectiveness of our Intensive Math Program,” he said. “For more than 10 years our program has helped so many students to not only master basic high school mathematics, but to also learn good study techniques to help them throughout their time in college.”
Padron, who is now a student success peer for CSUSB’s Advising and Academic Services Department, still beams when talking about the program.
“Not only did the Intensive Math Program help me with math, but it gave me the courage to sit in a lecture room and ask questions in a studying environment,” Pardon said. “I’m very proud I took the class.”
Founded in 1867 as the George Peabody Education Fund, the Southern Education Foundation’s mission is to advance equity and excellence in education. SEF uses research, advocacy and collaboration to improve outcomes from early childhood to young adulthood. Its core belief is that education is the vehicle by which all students get a fair chance to develop their talents and contribute to the common good.
Through a variety of programs and strategies involving research, analysis, advocacy, technical assistance and outreach, the SEF works to:
- Improve education policy and practice;
- Inform the public about education issues and policy options;
- Strengthen parent, school and private sector efforts to better meet the needs of underachieving students and prepare America’s future workforce; and
- Promote a high quality of universal education.
For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.