Math Reform

The Mathematics Department is partnering with the Hub to assess the impact of introductory math reform in College Algebra and Quantitative Literacy courses. Together they are collecting and analyzing data on program outcomes to design ways to lower barriers for student success.

Reform efforts in gateway mathematics courses at MSU have focused on providing students with pathways to success as math learners. Both nationally and at MSU, introductory math courses have delayed and even prevented students from earning degrees, particularly in STEM disciplines. MSU’s efforts have centered on eliminating our developmental math course (Math 1825), which had poor outcomes and earned students no credit toward graduation. This Hub project has focused on research and assessment work that supports decision-making in these reform efforts. 

students in math classroom


  • Department of Mathematics
  • Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology

Our Process:

Students who otherwise would have placed in developmental math now, depending on their degree program, directly enroll in 1) Quantitative Literacy courses (Math 101 and 102), 2) a two-semester stretched College Algebra experience (Math 103A and 103B), or 3) the one-semester College Algebra course (Math 103). The assessment work has included, for example, efforts to quantify the impact of enhanced course sections, understand and improve the learning assistant experience in Quantitative Literacy, and compare student performance in the current vs prior Algebra pathways.

Project Team:

  • Department of Mathematics: Sue Allen, Julie Cioni, Teena Gerhardt, Jane Zimmerman, Rachael Lund
  • Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology: Becky Matz


The Quantitative Literacy courses were piloted in Summer 2015 and have scaled up enrollments every year since, with the expectation that the 2018-2019 enrollment levels will be stable in subsequent years. The two-semester College Algebra sequence was implemented beginning in Fall 2018. Key results to date include that student performance in the Quantitative Literacy courses has been excellent, and the new stretched algebra sequence has been beneficial for student performance as well. Compared to the prior Algebra pathway, approximately 300 more students who started in Fall 2018 passed Algebra by the end of Spring 2019, and the grade gap between majority and underrepresented minority students by race/ethnicity has narrowed as well.