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Hadas Moshonov-Cohavi
Avila University

How long have you been using Knewton Alta?

I’ve been using Alta since fall 2018 and we’ve seen great results with it. Most students that take the course are passing the first time through.

What classes are you teaching?

I have my college algebra class, statistics, discrete math and I’m also teaching the corequisite course that goes with college algebra.

We also have one course that’s called the application of college math. We also use Knewton Alta in that course. Someone else is teaching it, but students from that course are also showing up in corequisite.

Why did you start using Knewton Alta?

When I started my position, it was the first year that we changed our math model offering. We discarded the beginning algebra, intermediate algebra and that old fashioned sequence, and we went with one really basic course which is math literacy.

Man with headphonesThe main math course was the corequisite course and this was the first year that we offered it. It was my first year, and I was using My Math Lab because I thought that it offered adaptive assignments. Which turned out to be not true, so I had to choose questions myself. What I was really hoping for was a platform that will fill in gaps in students’ knowledge. I met with the Knewton Alta representative, we went through all of the features, and I just fell in love with the product.

I fell in love with a few things:

First of all, the fact that it’s mastery-based, so I don’t really have to choose anything, I can adjust objectives, and then the system will populate the right questions.

I liked the fact that it really promotes growth mindset. It really gives students the instructions, the example, the videos, everything that they need to fill out their knowledge.

And the fact that it’s individually adaptive so that every student has their own personalized process of learning in the course. So, I just fell in love with those things.

Do you get feedback from students?

My students love it! I have stronger students and also weaker students that just keep telling me “I love how Knewton Alta works!” And one student even told me that she has her own approach. She said that she’ll start a problem, and then get it wrong intentionally, so she can see the answer explanation and learn that way.

All throughout this semester I really don’t get any complaints. The only thing some students say and it’s something those students who don’t want to put in the time, they will complain that they got some stuff wrong, they had more questions, and you know, the assignments took longer.

How do you implement Knewton Alta?

I create adaptive assignments in Knewton Alta, there are different numbers depending on the topic but it’s between two and five in a week. They are worth 30% of their grade. Each assignment is targeting a specific topic with the objectives that are related to it. Students have to do it and complete it at 100%.

So, for example, this week we were solving systems of equations. And so, there is a linear systems or three equations. That’s one homework assignment. And then the second one is solving linear systems using matrices and the other a couple of objectives and sub objectives in each assignment.

I use Knewton Alta a lot during my lab course which is the corequisite course. This is the course that students take if they don’t have a high placement test score to go straight into college algebra, or they entered the school as “test optional” or things like that. That first year it was bad, and I realized I needed to do something different. So, the students started using Knewton Alta. The main focus was for students to come to the lab and work on their homework for their math course and I could help them when they needed it.

When we were in class together, I could walk around and look at the students’ screens as see how they were doing. But when we moved online, now students are working on Zoom. I go to their account and see if they’re active, what homework they are working on, how late they are. Sometimes I see a student who is struggling so I can reach out and offer extra help. I use Knewton Alta intensely. And I really appreciate all the information that it provides such as the last time the student was logged in, and how long they worked on each assignment. It’s very helpful.

I have students who show up in lab and tell me they’re working on this week’s homework in math. Then I go into Knewton Alta, and I see that they’re not active!

I also have some assignments that I know will require a little bit of time to do actually write down the questions and solve them. And I look at the time it takes students to solve. And I can see some students only taking five minutes to do something that should take 20 minutes. It alerts me to the fact that maybe they’re using apps to solve their problems. I bring that up in the class and make sure students understand that using the shortcut is actually hurting them and it will actually impact them in a negative way—in the long run.

What kind of impact has Knewton Alta had on student outcomes?

Very positive impact in a few ways. First, I see students who tell me at the beginning they are not good at math, or that math is really challenging for them. And then I see them actually working through the homework and getting good grades and completing the course successfully.

It’s not just my teaching, it’s the whole package that I provide as an instructor and Knewton Alta is a big part of it. I collected data since I started using Knewton Alta – I’ve created a data set that collects all the lab students and grades and their current GPA. And also, the subcategory of grades in the lab, which is basically 50% of the grade in their lab course (the corequisite) is to complete their weekly homework on time.

So, I’m looking at correlations and then I have also a historical data set I’m going to look at. But I’m in the process. I also want to get some numbers out of it, both for the administration here and also for myself for my own research.

How important is the adaptive nature of Knewton Alta?

Very! The fact that Knewton Alta identifies the knowledge gaps, and every student can work at their own level is really important.