Tonight, Austin Community College student Jennifer Bragdon will be sitting with First Lady Michelle Obama as the President delivers his final State of the Union Address. Bragdon is a fully employed mother of one who has made the decision to go back to school part-time and earn her degree. Bragdon serves as an example of the power of personalized learning with ALEKS, a digital math solution from McGraw-Hill Education.
Bragdon met Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden on a tour of the Highland Campus ACCelerator lab, which transformed a vacant mall department store into a 604-station computer lab where students have access to ALEKS. The lab utilizes ALEKS’ self-paced, personalized program to help developmental math students, like Bragdon, overcome a common stumbling block and succeed in college.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t have a vacant department store and 604 computers to replicate ACC’s model,” ACC’s cutting edge digital implementation is replicable on a smaller scale. The key to ACC’s emporium model is that it removes the anxiety from math and creates a friendly, supportive environment for their students. By providing personalized instruction and more one-on-one time between students and instructors, they are getting students in the door and keeping them on track to be successful. As one ACC instructor put it, he has 18 students, but he really has 18 classes with one student per class.
Bragdon’s story is also about overcoming math anxiety and feeling empowered and confident about one’s learning. ALEKS does this through an individualized approach to math instruction. With ALEKS, students are able to learn at their own pace; if they don’t finish, they can pick up where they left off and aren’t forced to start over again when they are ready to come back to it. By empowering students to learn at their own pace while providing instant feedback, students see immediate success which builds confidence.
Dr. Jill Biden is quoted as saying, “I’m sure your program is going to build and I hope that other community colleges come in and see this and adopt it on their own campuses.” We challenge you to extend this mindset to high schools as well.