Evaluation of Prior Projects
Earth Algebra Evaluation Summary

The project evaluation was discussed in the FIPSE publication, Lessons Learned from FIPSE Projects III, p.100. The evaluation design and selection of treatment and control groups is discussed there.To assess the extent of the success of Earth Algebra, the results of testing six hypotheses were analyzed to determine if the course enhanced achievement in any of the four pretest and posttest variables: (a) knowledge of algebra, (b) data analysis, (c) mathematical modeling, and (d) view toward mathematics. The following listing provides the major conclusions of this investigation.
  1. Supplanting the curriculum of a standard entry-level college algebra course is feasible.
  2. Earth Algebra students dramatically improved their views toward mathematics.
  3. Earth Algebra enhanced students' achievement in data analysis.
  4. Earth Algebra enhanced students' achievement in mathematical modeling.
  5. Earth Algebra had no different effect on students' knowledge of algebra than did "regular" College Algebra; i.e. both groups performed at an equal level in algebraic skills.
  6. There is a very strong relationship between the students' final course grade and View of Mathematics Inventory (VMI) Gain scores among Earth Algebra students.
  7. A strong relationship existed between final course grade and Data Analysis Achievement (DAA) Gain scores among Earth Algebra students.
  8. Earth Algebra can be judged successful. This conclusion is justified after reviewing the previous six conclusions (2-7).
  9. In addition to the above, follow-up investigation of student grades reveals that the percentage of students who were successful with a grade of C or better in both college algebra and subsequent courses at Kennesaw State was higher for Earth Algebra Students.

From Earth Algebra to Earth Math (1993 - 1996) Evaluation Summary

To assess the extent of the success of the EarthMath Project, the results of testing six hypotheses were analyzed to determine if the materials enhanced general mathematics ability, views toward mathematics, and problem-solving and decision making proficiency. And, the materials themselves were analyzed to determine the extent to which they are aligned with the recommendations of the NCTM Standards.The following listing provides the major conclusions of the investigation, excerpted from the complete evaluation report.

    1. Using EarthMath Studies in precalculus and mathematics teacher education courses is enticing.
      Students in precalculus and mathematics teacher education courses dramatically improved their mathematical prowess.
    2. Precalculus students improved their views toward mathematics.
    3. Mathematics teacher education and precalculus students experienced significant different problem-solving and decision making competence.
    4. EarthMath Studies are remarkably aligned with the NCTM Curriculum and Evaluation Standards
    5. The EarthMath Project can be judged successful. This conclusion is justified after viewing the previous five conclusions.
    6. A strong relationship existed between final course grade and Data Analysis Achievement (DAA) Gain scores among Earth Algebra students.

Earth Math Phase 3 (1997-2000) Evaluation Summary

The project evaluator posed three research questions:
    1. Does experience with the Earth Studies materials enhance a studentís problem-solving and/or mathematical decision making ability?
    2. Does the use of Earth Studies materials in an elementary applied calculus or elementary statistics course enhance a studentís opinions about mathematics?
    3. To what extent are the Earth Studies materials aligned with the recommendations of the NCTM Standards?

Regarding the first two research questions, the evidence indicates that experience with the Earth Math Studies does enhance problem solving and decision making competence and opinions about mathematics were stronger.Both treatment and control groups exhibited significant improvement and there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in Applied Calculus. The scores of the statistics Treatment group were significantly higher than those of the Control Group. It should be noted here that the Applied Calculus Treatment group was also using innovative reform material while the Statistics Treatment group used a traditional text.

To answer Research Question 3, thematerials were evaluated according to eight curriculum standards considered germane to the Earth Math Studies:the four process standards (Problem Solving, Communication, Reasoning and Communication), and four content standards(Algebra, Functions, Statistics and Conceptual Underpinnings of Calculus).A comparison of the individual components for each standard with the Studies revealed that these materials were highly congruent with the Standards.Further analysis showed the students in the Treatment courses were much more likely to work together in small groups in class and to work on projects as well.This result is particularly significant for those materials which will be used for teacher training.

Other Evaluation Information

Maricopa Mathematics Consortium

Alan Jacobs of Scottsdale College delivered a paper at the 1996 annual MAA Meetings that reported a comparison study of college algebra students at two colleges in the Maricopa Mathematics Consortium.

Success rates for students of Earth Algebra and of a traditional course were computed: Traditional 55.6%, EA 82.9%. Also compared were success rates in subsequent mathematics and science courses.Results for these students in Calculus I, II, and beyond are cited: Traditional 44%, EA 60%. Further, a through-put ratio was determined for both groups and compared: Traditional 47.6%,EA 55.1%.

An Applications-Driven Curriculum: The Maricopa Mathematics Consortium Addresses the AMATYC Standards), Alan Jacobs, 1996)

Navajo Community College

A special set of notes designed using the Earth Algebra approach was written for the Navajo Community College (Shiprock) college algebra course in 1994. Student success rates for the same instructor were computed comparing rates before and after introduction of these notes into the classroom: before EA 48%, EA 70%.