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Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005

The Modular Teaching Approach in College Algebra: An Alternative to Improving the Learner’s Achievement, Persistence, and Confidence in Mathematics

Maxima J. Acelajado De La Salle University Phillipines

Abstract This experimental study used a pretest-posttest design to determine the effects of the modular teaching approach on the achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics of 24 freshmen (12 high ability and 12 low ability students) from the College of Business and Economics, De La Salle University, Manila, who were enrolled in College Algebra during the first term, schoolyear 2004–2005. The topics considered were those identified as difficult by students who have taken College Algebra, and by mathematics teachers who have handled this subject, namely, Systems of Linear Equations and Quadratic Inequalities in One Variable. The t-test applied on the pretest and posttest results of the two groups in all variables indicated significant differences at the .05 level of significance.

Keywords: achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics, assessment, experimental study.

Introduction

A considerably low achievement in mathematics and a relatively low self-efficacy among students who are impatient in solving mathematical problems pose real great challenge to present day mathematics educators. This challenge may be addressed by introducing new programs of instructions, new instructional materials, and new teaching methods and approaches. In the light of the preceding arguments, this study attempted to use the modular teaching approach in College Algebra and investigate its effects on the students’ achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics.

Following are some literature and the findings of studies related to the concern of this paper.

**On Modular Instruction
**

It is a fact that no two individuals are alike in their physical, mental, and emotional development: one may grow faster, another can easily recognize concepts, and still others tend to be more mature as compared to others of the same age. Travers, Pikaart, Suydam, and Runion (1977) emphasized that a student may be recognized as an individual by giving him tasks specifically geared to his needs and interests, and by providing him with instructional materials that will allow him to progress at an optimal rate on his own pace.

An intensive research on the psychological theories of learning such as the Theory of Concept Formation (Burger, 1986) and the Theory of Reinforcement (Skinner,1968) brought about the idea of modules which adopts the same format as programmed learning. True enough, the learner has the enthusiasm to pursue his studies if he is given the feedback about his performance and he is able to repeat reading the material for better understanding of the concepts under consideration.

Learner’s Achievement, Persistence, and Confidence in Mathematics

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Chipman. This refers to reliance. Learner’s Achievement. In relation to this. meeting challenges. monitor their comprehension better. Brush. and process information at a deeper level. and making progress. even if these are not the ones prescribed in class. resentment. Cematu (1982). Success in mathematics requires a combination of confidence and hard work. and Confidence in Mathematics 2 . Persistence in Mathematics Persistence in mathematics is about continuing to work on a mathematics problem even when the answer or method of solution is not apparent. if not more effective than. modular instruction was found to be as effective as. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 Achievement in Mathematics Cognizant of the differences among the students and motivated by a desire to determine the merits of the modular teaching approach. self-assurance. self-concept and attitudes towards mathematics play significant influences on mathematical ability. the traditional method based on the improved performance of the students in the respective subjects. Luna (1987) in Industrial Mathematics. Almost always. Parker and Hetherington (1999) cited that personality factors such as persistence. Dodd (1992) asserted that lack of confidence in oneself is the greatest obstacle to learning because beliefs govern action so that the belief that one cannot do something may render him unable to perform a task of which he is truly capable. putting their emphasis on learning and understanding through hard work. students should be allowed to use methods they understand. Young (1991) and Abalajon (1993) asserted that modular materials have established their edge over other kinds of materials in education because these serve as enrichment for fast learners and as review or remedial materials for slow learners in a relatively short span of time. and Wilson (1985) found that confidence was a crucial indicator for female participation in secondary and tertiary mathematics. they found that high-efficacy students are more likely to use a broader array of strategies. Solving mathematical problems require time and patience if students are to overcome obstacles and reach a satisfactory conclusion. et. Cudia (1985) and Parungao (1985) in Trigonometry. In separate reviews conducted by Schunk (1989) and Pajares (1996). This finds support in the findings of Boyles and Contadino (1997) and Porter. and Nocon (1992) in Statistics. and fearlessness in doing a certain activity. Ames (1992) found that elementary school students who attributed success to effort were more likely to exhibit a mastery of orientation.EARCOME 3. al (1999) who argued that confidence affects a person’s success in mathematics and that confidence in mathematics breeds success. firm trust in one's capabilities. Perkins and Flores (2002) asserted that to increase confidence in mathematics. All these studies made use of secondary school students as respondents and compared the achievements of the experimental and control groups. Davis and Hersh (1990) argued that one of the reasons for resistance. Persistence. Valeriano (1988) in Consumer Mathematics. assured expectation. Jimenez (1987) and Aquino (1988) in Geometry. use them more flexibly. Confidence in Mathematics Confidence is otherwise known as self-efficacy or the degree to which an individual trusts his ability to achieve a specific goal. some related studies that were conducted in the past are as follows: Silva (1992) and Cachero (1994) developed and evaluated modules on selected topics in Algebra. This refers to the behavior of pursuing an activity firmly and working through difficult problems alone and not giving up easily on them. and rejection on the part of the students is considerable impatience with the material under consideration.

The respondents of the study were 24 freshmen from the College of Business and Economics. This study utilized the following instruments: (1) Modules on Systems of Linear Equations and Quadratic Inequalities in One Variable. The experiment which lasted for one month considered two groups of 12 respondents each ––– the high ability group (HAG) and the low ability group (LAG) ––– based on their scores in a diagnostic test in College Algebra and their high school grade in mathematics.. Learner’s Achievement. the study sought to: (1) describe how the respondents’ levels of achievement.EARCOME 3. (2) Teacher-made test in College Algebra. and confidence in mathematics.684. a 10item instrument with a reliability index of 0. persistence. and (4) the Confidence Inventory. a 50-item test which was used to measure the respondents’ pretest and posttest achievement on the modularized topics. Specifically. (2) determine if the posttest means of the respective ability groups in all variables of the study are significantly different or not. Methodology This study utilized the quasi-experimental method of research. (3) the Persistence Inventory. who were enrolled in College Algebra during the first term.831. a 10-item instrument with a reliability index of 0. and Confidence in Mathematics 3 . De La Salle University. It was hypothesized that using the modular teaching approach would improve the learners’ achievement. and confidence in mathematics. persistence and confidence change following modular instruction. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 Objectives of the study The study investigated the merits of the modular teaching approach as an alternative to improving the learners’ achievement. persistence. Manila. and (3) gather the respondents' reactions about the use of the modular teaching approach and the modules in College Algebra.. schoolyear 2004–2005. Persistence.

84 40 78 66.2166 NS LAG (n=12) 40 72 61.05 3. Descriptive Statistics for the Variables of the Study: HAG vs LAG Achievement in College Algebra Ability Level/ Statistic Lowest Score Highest Score Pretest Pretest HAG (n=12) 10 28 25.46 HS Persistence in Mathematics HAG (n=12) 54 90 75.0547 S LAG (n=12) 4 18 13.12 8.50 10.53 6.82 11.14 17. their respective mean pretest and posttest scores in all the variables of the study were computed and tested for significance.92 HS 4.26 5.62 HS Confidence in Mathematics HAG (n=12) 74 88 69.94 11. persistence and confidence.59 70 88 87. and Confidence in Mathematics 4 .01 78 92 86.80 76 94 88.34 20. standard deviations and computed t-values for the two ability groups.84 82 98 93. Table 1 shows the statistical summary of the means.24 9.EARCOME 3. Persistence.39 56 98 84. Table 1. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 Results and discussion To determine the effects of modular instruction on the respondents’ achievement.38 S 0.94 10.3069 NS LAG (n=12) 40 86 72.77 HS 1. 28 2.16 10.40 10.23 9.78 HS Pretest Mean Score Standard Deviation (Pretest) Lowest Score Highest Score Posttest Score Posttest Posttest Mean Standard Deviation (Posttest) Computed t-value (Posttest Pretest) vs Computed t-value (HAG Posttest vs LAG Posttest) Learner’s Achievement.65 10.23 12.08 10.

EARCOME 3. Schunk (1989). These findings agree with those of Boyles and Contadino (1999). (5) I had a better chance to figure out the correct answer Learner’s Achievement. and Porter. Also. and confidence levels of the respondents have been improved after exposing them to the modular teaching approach. In so far is confidence is concerned. with the LAG achieving greater improvement. The respondents’ active participation in discussions related to mathematics seems to have been brought about by a certain degree of confidence in their skills and knowledge of mathematical concepts. persistence. df = 22) = 2. (2) Learning by myself by reading through the module was really challenging but encouraging. These findings confirm those of Parker and Hetherington (1999) that high persistence leads to patience.and post-experiment persistence and confidence levels in mathematics. Pajares (1996). They also became more determined in figuring out the correct answer to their teacher's question in class after getting exposed to the modular teaching approach. Nobody had a change of persistence from high to low. A cursory look at the distribution of the respondents according to their pre. The overall perceptions of the respondents as reflected in the statistical result of their pretest and posttest confidence mean scores revealed that the respondents’ newly-found confidence encouraged them to participate in mathematics-related activities and made them feel comfortable in completing their assignment on time. This clearly indicates that the achievement. The raw scores in the inventory indicate that majority of the respondents learned to pay attention to what their teacher and classmates say in their mathematics class and believe that if they try harder. the data revealed that the respondents from the LAG improved a lot in their confidence level as compared to those from the HAG. α = . These confirm the findings of previous studies that similarly used the modular teaching approach as the only intervention in the experiment.01. α = . (4) There is limited interaction between me and my classmates. al. In particular. As regards the respondents’ unedited comments and reactions to the use of the modular teaching approach and the modules in College Algebra.074 HS – Highly Significant S – Significant Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 HAG – High Ability Group LAG . et. it is apparent that all respondents became highly persistent in trying their best to solve more difficult mathematical problems and in making their tasks easier by breaking them into smaller manageable parts. (3) I get to know what I am expected to do from the objectives indicated in the module. TSG 6 t (tabular. Moreover. (1999). it is very clear that the modular teaching approach facilitated knowledge acquisition of all the respondents. and Confidence in Mathematics 5 .Low Ability Group Results from Table 1 show that there are significant differences exist between the posttest and pretest mean scores of the different ability groups in all variables of the study. Persistence. as seen in their responses in the instrument. the following were mentioned: (1) I learned how to evaluate and rate my answers to the exercises based on the scoring scheme provided in the module although sometimes it is difficult to allocate partial points for incomplete solutions. It seems that the modular teaching approach has been instrumental in improving the respondents’ confidence in the subject. majority of the respondents had a change of persistence from low to high. although the posttest mean achievement of the HAG is significantly higher than that of the LAG.819 t (tabular. the respondents from the LAG have raised their persistence and confidence levels in mathematics to be at least at par with those of the HAG as evidenced by the insignificant difference between their posttests in these variables. such confidence enabled them to work independently as they became more self-assured and comfortable in accepting mathematicsrelated responsibilities. they can do better in mathematics. No one in any group had a change of confidence from high to low.05. with most of them coming from the LAG. df = 22) = 2. as reflected in the table. Moreover.

MIST. (1988).EARCOME 3. De La Salle University. (3) Use the modular teaching approach in other areas of college mathematics. The improvement of the learners’ persistence and confidence is independent of their mathematical ability. (1997). I believe I can do it better this time. (3) The modular teaching approach in mathematics has positive effects on the respondents’ achievement. Thomas. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. (11) I was forced to do the practice task to raise the required grade to move on to the next lesson. 261-271. (9) After completing the modules. (7) I realized that mathematics is not that difficult. regardless of their abilities. N. Ames. T. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. it can be inferred that performance in higher mathematics largely depends on the learner’s mathematical ability and understanding of basic mathematical concepts. (2) Encourage teachers to explore opportunities that will allow for more creativity so that students remain interested. laws Learner’s Achievement. Boyles. The learning differences sourcebook. & Contadino. Josefina L. (12) Getting to know that my answer is correct after comparing it with the feedback gave me enough confidence to complete the module. history. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 to an exercise because I can always refer back to the discussion and examples given in the module. persistence. Aquino. persistence. L. Max Weber’s theory of concept formation. (8) I became patient. this study yielded the following conclusions: (1) The use of the modular teaching approach has made significant improvement in the learners’ achievement. 84(3). (1986). Classroom: Goals. and wonder about the lesson. 1992-1993. and Confidence in Mathematics 6 . Development and validation of modules on selected topics in SEDP Math II at the Manila High School. D. persevering.A. (1993). reflect. (6) The modules came out very handy as it gave me more time to read. Solutions and applications of triangles: A modular approach. (10) I am proud to have learned mathematics independently (with minimal consultations with my teacher). (1992). References Abalajon. (2) Since there is a significant difference in the posttest mean achievement scores between the HAG and the LAG. Persistence. and enthusiastic throughout their mathematics course at the same time improve their persistence and confidence in mathematics. focused. Burger. Manila. Conclusions Using the modular teaching approach as intervention.: RGA Publishing Group. Having more time to understand the lesson enabled me to see the importance of the subject. Journal of Educational Psychology. I found myself looking for more lessons in mathematics. and comfortable as I tried to understand the discussion in the module. Recommendations Some recommendations for teacher training and materials development are as follows: (1) Conduct pre-service and in-service seminar-workshops on the preparation of modules geared toward helping the learner to appreciate mathematics and gain confidence in what they are doing in school mathematics while learning the fundamentals and intricacies of mathematics. structures and student motivation. wander. and confidence in mathematics. C. and confidence levels most especially among the respondents from the low ability group.

De La Salle University. Luna.EARCOME 3. DECS. & R.. Chipman. 75. validation and evaluation of modules on selected topics in Probability and Statistics for engineering students. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 & ideal types. The Mathematics Teacher. Cematu. Perkins. Modules on problem solving for second year high school students. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Persistence. Hetherington (1999). P. (1985) Development and validation of modules in Plane Trigonometry based on identified difficulties of fourth year high school students of Esteban Abada High School. Nocon. Corazon M. and Wilson. Development and validation of modules on Circle and Parabola for FEU engineering freshmen. Learner’s Achievement. PLM. Dominador. (1992). Dodd. Women and mathematics. Rizaldi. Cudia. L. F. Manila. Hersh. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Balancing the equation. Pajares. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. MIST. Parungao. Concepcion M. Isabel & Alfinio Flores. (1978). Modular approach in teaching selected topics in Industrial Mathematics. (1996). Unpublished Master’s Thesis. R. (1994). (1985). Child psychology: A contemporary viewpoint. Seminar Paper. and M. London: Lawrence and Eribaum. Anne Wescott. Self-efficacy beliefs in academic settings. Jr. Manila.M. Mathematics for the average college-bound students. MIST. Insights from a math phobic. 543-578. Boston: McGraw Hill. Parker. Davis. Cachero.F. (1990). (1982). S. DLSU. D. 4. Jimenez. (2002). Unpublished Master’s Thesis. (1987). C. L.R. MIST. (1985). and Confidence in Mathematics 7 . Review of Educational Research. (1992). 85. 66. The mathematical experience. Development and validation of modules based on selected topics in Trigonometry for DIT students at Nueva Vizcaya State Polytechnic College. 2. Anita N.Development. Mathematics teaching in the middle school. Brush. Ma. The Mathematics Teacher. Unpublished Master’s Thesis... Durham: Duke University Press.

(1992). F. Schunk. Development and evaluation of modules on selected topics in statistics. 7. 173-208. Open University Press. Steele. The technology of teaching. 262. Pikaart. Louise. Young. 7. Victoria C. D. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. (1968). (1999). Lowering anxiety in the mathematics curriculum. F. Self-efficacy and achievement behaviors. Suydam. DLSU.. Educational Psychology Review.EARCOME 3. The Education Digest. D. Manila. & G. Silva. L. Travers. Skinner. New York: Harper & Row. De La Salle University. (1989). (1991). Runion. (1988). 63. TSG 6 Shanghai 5 – 12 August 2005 Reston.. Eulogio Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Persistence. B. Gifted young children: A guide for teachers and parents. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Diana & Alfred Arth (March 1998). Porter. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. The effectiveness of modular instruction in the study of selected topics based on identified difficulties in Advanced Algebra. H. 1. M. Development of modules in consumer mathematics based on identified difficulties. (1977). Valeriano. Learner’s Achievement. K. Mathematics teaching. and Confidence in Mathematics 8 .

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