Funded Projects at BMCC

Improving mathematical learning and college outcomes for developmental algebra students

This research project explores different ways to address student learning and progress through developmental algebra. Approaches to this research area include developing game-based and collaborative learning curricula for intermediate algebra, developing instruments to measure conceptual understanding in algebra, developing theories about how students learn and progress through fundamental algebra concepts as they learn algebra in developmental classes in college, and developing a concepts-based developmental algebra curriculum which accelerates students through elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, and precalculus by consolidating common concepts across contexts.

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis; Kathleen Offenholley; Jay Verkuillen

Research associates: Dale Dawes, Elisabeth Jaffe, Jae Ki Lee, Susan Licwinki, Audrey Nasar

Funding that has supported this research ($2,455,184 total):

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) EHR Core Grant: Developing and Validating an Elementary Algebra Concept Inventory, 2019-2024. ($1,500,000)
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) ATE Grant (with Ching-Song Wei and Francesco Crocco): A Simulation-Based Curriculum to Accelerate Math Remediation and Improve Degree Completion for STEM Majors, 2015-2019. ($875,794)
  • PSC CUNY Research Award, Enhanced: Validating an elementary algebra concept inventory, 2018-2019. ($11,363.75)
  • BMCC/CUNY Faculty Publication Grant: Framework for Algebraic Conceptual Understanding in the College Context, 2018-2019. ($5000)
  • BMCC/CUNY Faculty Development Grant: Validation of the Elementary Algebra Concept Inventory, 2016. ($5000)
  • CUNY Improving Undergraduate Mathematics Learning Grant: Increasing Student Success and Retention in Mathematics through Student-Centered Instruction and Collaborative Learning, Jan 2010 – June 2011. ($58,026)

Understanding factors that impact college outcomes for "non-traditional" students

This research project focuses on which factors impact course and college outcomes for students who have been traditionally underrepresented and underserved in higher education, with a particular focus on external "life factors" (e.g. work and family commitments) and affective factors (e.g. self-efficacy) that may be particularly relevant for "non-traditional" students.

Identifying which students are at risk in online courses

This project focuses on identifying which students are at highest risk of dropping out or failing a course when they take it online instead of face-to-face, while controlling for the complex characteristics that tend to influence both student self-selection into online courses and student decisions to persist or drop out of courses and college.  The aim of this research is to help colleges make evidence-based decisions about when and which courses to offer online, and about which students to target for additional supports in the online environment.

Time poverty, non-traditional student characteristics, and college outcomes

This project focuses on more complex "life" factors that may be particularly relevant to the course and college outcomes of "non-traditional" students, and which are typically not tracked in standard institutional datasets. One example of this is time poverty, or the amount of time that students have to dedicate to their studies after the hours that they spend on paid and unpaid work, including childcare, have been accounted for. Time poverty is significantly higher among online students, student parents, and students who work to pay for college, and is also strongly correlated with college outcomes. This project seeks to uncover these complex relationships so that supports, such as financial aid, can be improved to better support the college progress of "non-traditional" students.

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis, Alyse C. Hachey and Katherine M. Conway

Research associates: Jason Samuels, Anthony Picciano

Funding that has supported this research ($880,634 total):

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) EHR Core Grant: Can Student Characteristics be Used to Effectively Identify Students At-Risk in the Online STEM Environment?, 2015-2019. ($719,108)
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst/German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Visit Grant for Faculty: Online course-taking, access, and persistence in higher education in the U.S. and Germany, fall 2014. ($9,255)
  • CUNY Fellowship Award: Online course-taking, access, and persistence in higher education in the U.S. and Germany, 2014-2015. ($74,860)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research Award: Online STEM Students At-Risk: Building a Model of Online STEM Student Retention at the Community College, 2012-2014. ($25,000)
  • CUNY Community College Collaborative Incentive Research Grant: An Investigation of Prior Experience and Course Type as Factors Affecting Online STEM Student Retention and Success, 2012-2013. ($15,000)
  • BMCC/CUNY Faculty Development Grant: Factors Determining Online Student Enrollment: Evaluation of a Large-Scale National Dataset, 2013. ($3000)
  • PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B: The Role of Self-Selection in Online Student Persistence at the Community College: Are Restrictive Enrollment Policies Justified?, 2013-2014. ($5,125)
  • PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B: Using a Binary Logistic Regression Model to Identify Online Courses in Greatest Need of Supplemental Student Support, 2012-2013. ($5,462)
  • GPSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B: Examining Minority Student Success in Online STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Courses, 2012-2013 ($2800)
  • PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B: Assessing Online Students at Risk: Building a Better Predictive Model for Online Course Attrition, 2011-2012. ($4,512)
  • BMCC/CUNY Title V Faculty Research Grant: Assessing Online Students at Risk: Building a Better Predictive Model for Online Course Attrition, 2011. ($4000)
  • PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B: Investigating Trends in Online Attrition to Optimize Student Success, 2011-2012. ($4,512)
  • BMCC/CUNY Title V Faculty Research Grant: Access & Success: The Traditionally Underrepresented Student in Online Learning, 2011. ($4000)
  • BMCC/CUNY Title V Faculty Research Grant: Investigating Trends in Online Re-enrollment, Retention and Success, 2011. ($4000)

Improving learning in college calculus

This project developed instructional materials, trained other instructors and implemented it in dozens of classrooms, researches the instruction and learning taking place in single and multi-variable calculus.The curriculum for single variable calculus is centered around local linearity, and the curriculum for multi-variable calculus is centered around the use of innovative clear 3D dray-erase surfaces and discovery-based activities in a hands-on collaborative setting. The research includes investigations of how students adopt physical tools for learning; how instructors change their instruction in novel hands-on settings, and what conceptions students form of key ideas.

Primary Investigators: Jason Samuels, Aaron Wangberg, Brian Fisher

Funding that has supported this research ($267,237 total):

  • National Science Foundation (NSF) IUSE Grant: Raising Calculus to the Surface, 2013-2019. ($257,237)
  • BMCC Faculty Development Grant: Investigation of Student Learning Paths in a Reorganized Calculus Curriculum, 2012 ($3000)
  • BMCC E-Learning Grant: An Improved Method for Online Calculus Instruction, 2011 ($4000)
  • PSC-CUNY Grant: The Use of Interactive Technology in Calculus Instruction, 2007-2008 ($3000)