Cycle 2 Data

AR Focus Statement

The problem being addressed is student’s seeming lack of interest to study and connect with the course material. The proposed solution is to engage the students through a focus on technology and networking.

Inquiry Questions

Will recording engineering students in System Support better comprehend fundamental computer applications and score higher grades in class after receiving in depth lessons on how to optimize Mac OSX system preferences on their personal computers?

Will the interest and therefore the recorded daily attendance of Los Angeles Recording School students enrolled in System Support be improved by visiting Internet resources and connecting with relevant professional networks?

Target Audience

The target audience is the students enrolled at the Los Angeles Recording School who attended System Support during the month of June 2012. For cycle 2, 77 students were enrolled in System Support. Four students were female and 73 were male. The class is 1 month in length and falls approximately 4 to 6 months into the associate degree program. Students range in age from 18 to 50 and in order to enroll in the Los Angeles Recording School they must have completed a high school level education.

Summary of Cycle 2

For the 2nd cycle an introductory email was sent to all the students enrolled in System Support for the month of June 2012. They were also offered 1 point of extra credit for participating in the entrance survey if they chose to enter their name. We used the same new class order that was developed using the ADDIE process.

The first 2 lectures also focused on the student laptops, networking, and resources. Topics covered in the first and second labs were reinforced and opened for further discussion. During the 5th and 6th lectures, parallels were drawn between old technologies and new technologies in an attempt to show the students that many powerful tools, that use to be only available in expensive studios, can now be installed on their computers as software. There was continual emphasis put on being proactive with technology and how easily it can be taken for granted.

Multiple written extra credit assignments were offered during the course, the last of which asked for a summary of what they learned in class. Responses were limited yet insightful. Students were also asked to fill out an entrance and exit survey for the class that asked similarly how much computer experience they had, how comfortable they felt, what Internet resources they were familiar with and what resources they found useful.The entrance survey for cycle 2 also asked for the students name to earn extra credit. At the end of every course at the Los Angeles Recording School, students are asked to fill out evaluations about their perceived quality and relevance of the course. The voluntary anonymous responses provided a great deal of feedback that is delivered directly to the course director as a spreadsheet.

Data Collection

Data was collected at multiple stages of cycle 2 using several methods. Grades where calculated and compared for each of 3 lab quizzes, 3 lecture quizzes, and final exams in both lab and lecture.  Using the standardized Excel based course Grade Book, class failure rates of the System Support classes in March and April were compared with the failure rates at the end of cycle 2. Attendance was compared with the attendance of the March and April classes. Attendance was entered daily into the school Campus Vue database. The average number of hours a student spent in class was easily approximated.

Data was also collected from student feedback attained from the entrance and exit surveys and extra credit assignments. A summary of anonymous course evaluations that the students filled out online in the final lecture class was also examined. It included scaled responses and comments on what they liked, disliked, and how they felt about their instructors.

The final sources of data I retrieved came from the 4 System Support lab instructors and the System Support student advisor, Betti Gutierrez.

Data Report

The data collected in cycle 2 showed improved average grades, a lower failure rate, and better overall attendance in comparison to March and April. Students were more engaged and alert in class at the beginning of the course as reported to me by the lab instructors and observed directly in lecture. The surveys and evaluations showed improved attitudes and engagement as reported by the students themselves. Overall success, engagement, and satisfaction with the course improved in cycle 2 and was clearly shown in the data collected.

Student final grades for cycle 2 were compared to the System Support class grades from March and April (listed as percentages).

  • March – 64.3% = Letter grade D
  • April – 64.8% = Letter grade D
  • June (cycle 2) – 77.9% = Letter grade C+
The final grades data shows that there was a significant improvement in the average final grade (therefore GPA) of students during the second cycle compared to March and April. The average grade was a little more than a full letter grade above March and April to an average GPA that is acceptable for earning a degree. There was an average increase just over 20% in final grades.

Cycle 2 student failure rates were compared to March and April terms.

  • March – 24.47% (23 out of 94 failed)
  • April – 24.73% (23 out of 93 failed)
  • June (cycle 2) – 11.69% (9 out of 77 failed)
Student failure rate for the June class during cycle 2 was reduced by approximately 53% compared to the March and April classes. This shows an improvement in students success. Ultimately cycle 2 had a lower enrollment than both the March and April terms.

Student attendance was compared to the March and April terms. There are 60 hours of total class time of lecture and lab combined.

  • March – 69% average student attendance
  • April – 70% average student attendance
  • June (cycle 2) – 76.4% average student attendance
Overall student attendance for the month of June during cycle 2 was increased by an average of more than 3.75 hours per student. That is more than a full class worth of increased student attendance. With 77 students having completed System Support in June, that means there was approximately 295 more class hours of student attendance. Average student attendance increased by 6.4% compared to April.
Four meetings with the lab instructors were held for the purpose of collecting feedback and general discussion about classroom attitude. Several informal meetings were held with student advisor Betti Gutierrez regarding student success and to discuss why students were missing classes. Some student excuses for missing or failing the course were documented by Betti Gutierrez.
  1. After comparing the entrance and exit surveys, the entrance survey responses indicated that students generally lacked knowledge about some of their computer hardware and connectivity, computer system preferences, computer maintenance, and Internet resources. Most of the exit responses indicated an increased sense of and connection to industry resources. Exit surveys also showed that 70% of the respondents felt they had more computer experience after completing the class. High average scores on lab quiz 1 of 94.1% and better averages on lecture quiz 1 of 83%, show that the students had improved comprehension of the computer related material.
  2. Evaluations showed varying levels of satisfaction with the instructors and class overall. A total of 61 out of 77 students completed the course evaluation. 87% of the respondents rated the overall course as above average or excellent. 100% of the respondents agreed that the activities and assignments were effective in helping them learn. Extra credit response summaries seemed to mostly convey a great appreciation for the many topics covered in class, though there did not seem to be a specific preference for computer related lessons and information. With an overall average increase of 6.4% in student attendance, there appeared to be a general improvement of student engagement.
  3. Based on the many meetings with the four lab instructors and the student advisor, the overall attitude and attention span of students seems to have improved. Students more effectively connected with the class and the material in the beginning which helped improve the overall outcomes. The improved student attendance and grades clearly demonstrates this.

Insight

Upon completion of cycle 2, the outcome clearly demonstrated improvements. This was based on the analysis of student grades and attendance, their individual feedback, and classroom behavior as observed directly and reported by the lab instructors.

Students continued to seem much more relaxed and comfortable with the class when we started by introducing them to their computers. The students continue to be much more attentive initially as well, because they seem to be very interested in learning more about the technical aspects and capabilities of their computers. After completing cycle 2 I have gotten a really good idea of what changes are working, and what areas may still need some changes. In conclusion, I have noticed that not only am I getting better results and attention from the students, but my lab instructors are more engaged as well because they know they have the power to make a difference and suggestions as to how we can continue to improve the course.

Surprises

I continued to be surprised by how many students missed class and then eventually just stopped coming. The number of students who actually completed the class and still failed was very low. Reaching out to the students with technology helped engage more students, but there were still students who displayed a substantial lack of interest as they got further into the month.

Another surprise was that there was at least one student who was so completely overcome by anxiety when presented with mathematical equations and proofs behind the science, that they walked of the class room and into the office of a coworker and began crying. They were being shown how to use their built in software computer calculator to solve equations more easily. I was actually initially requested to reduce the discussion of math explanations in future classes, because it was not absolutely necessary to the success of graduates in the real world. The response of the lab instructors was varied, but there was some sense of agreement that the intensity of the math could be reduced somewhat.

Future Direction

I am making an effort to ensure that all of the lab sections have an equivalent educational experience. There will always be some variations based on the individual students of course. Every month there are minor adjustments and changes to the class as technology changes so quickly. We are developing a new course website using Moodle that should allow us to more thoroughly consolidate all of the course elements. I spend a lot of time entering grades and attendance and grading papers, so hopefully using a LMS (learning management system) like Moodle will help in the organization and efficiency.

The general education department is going to be moving the math class so it comes before System Support now, and that is a very positive change. My lab instructors, the general education college math instructor and myself are all very excited about this development. We have sat down and discussed what areas of math our students have problems with and what context could be used in the math class. I will be meeting with the math instructor again to help finalize the changes.

Several of the courses at the Los Angeles Recording School have been experiencing higher failure and drop rates recently, so there is also discussion about the reordering of classes in an attempt to create stronger connections in the material for the students. This is an exciting prospect as well.

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