Does Khan Academy Help Community College Students Destined for Noncredit Developmental Math?

Too many students enter college without being ready, especially in math. Many of them are placed in a developmental noncredit course.

Fully 68% of community college students and 40% of students at four-year public institutions were required to take one or more developmental education courses (sometimes called “remedial” courses) before enrolling in credit-bearing college-level courses, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Education.

In response to this vexing problem, NEBHE with support from the Lumina Foundation conducted the Developmental Math Demonstration Project to see whether the use of Khan Academy videos could lead to increased success in developmental math courses, and prepare students to take or retake college placement tests.

The brief reports on student and instructor perceptions of using Khan Academy as well as project outcomes and challenges encountered by faculty in using this instructional resource.

Key brief findings include:

  1. Faculty feedback was generally positive. Many responded that they liked the manage­ment features of Khan Academy.
  2. Students liked many of its features, including video playbacks. However, a significant number reported that Khan Academy couldn’t replace an instructor or textbook.
  3. Because participating faculty use of Khan Academy varied along with different grading processes it was difficult to judge the impact. However, there appeared to be a general­ association with students’ successfully completing mastery exercises and course grades.

Monnica Chan is former director of policy and research at NEBHE. Tim O’Connor is a developmental math instructor at the Community College of Vermont, implementation coach for NEBHE’s Developmental Math Demonstration Project and instructor trainer for a U.S. Department of Education-funded WestEd project evaluating the efficacy of using Khan Academy in community college algebra classes across California. Stafford Peat is a senior consultant at NEBHE.







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