Cengage Learning Revamps Developmental Math

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Community college students in remedial math courses have the odds stacked against them. Only 27 percent of them go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to research from the Department of Education.

Today Cengage Learning unveiled a product directly targeting this group of learners. The Boston-based educational content and tech company announced MindTap Math Foundations—the first in a suite of new of products designed to tackle college readiness in the U.S. The tool is a developmental math curriculum and platform that breaks lessons into 15-minute “learning bursts” that students can access by phone, tablet or computer.

“We found that the biggest problem for these students is not understanding the concepts—it’s time management,” Jim Donohue, chief product officer at Cengage, tells EdSurge. The company spent $3 million to research the marketplace and got input from nearly 1,000 students and more than 1,000 instructors.

“Ed institutions and content providers have been focused on what a student was like 15 years ago,” Donohue says. “They hadn’t spent much time or money understanding how a student looks today.” MindTap Math Foundations is aimed to help students at 2-year community colleges, he adds. With the tool, they’ll have access to interactive video lessons, game-based activities that build problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, chat tools and a virtual whiteboard where students and teachers can collaborate remotely.

Image Credit: Cengage Learning

The product comes with flexible pricing options, allowing students to purchase more or less content depending on their needs. They can buy 10-week access for $55 and extended access for $120. There’s also a performance guarantee: If students use the tool at least 3 hours per week, they won’t need to re-purchase it if they need to take the class again.

This spring 180 institutions will pilot MindTap Math Foundations. Donohue says Cengage’s goal is to improve retention by 30 percent. “I don’t worry as much about someone who’s in an advanced marketing course,” he says. “I worry about these students. This is a gateway course that determines whether they can move on.”

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