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Raising the Level of Numeracy at Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Raising the Level of Numeracy at Saskatchewan Polytechnic

20 October, 2021

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is the primary provider of technical education and skills training in the province of Saskatchewan for over 28,000 students, offering programs that touch every sector of the economy. Their priority is to ensure that students have access to a high-quality, innovative post-secondary education, and employers have access to a highly skilled and qualified workforce that contributes to the prosperity of the province of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic identified that their incoming students have a numeracy skills gap that has a negative impact on the performance in their math courses. Many students don’t have the pre-requisite math skills and lacked the level of confidence required to succeed in their math courses – a common experience at post-secondary institutions across the country. To overcome these challenges, institutions were creating their own assessments and supporting materials with the aim to bridge the numeracy gap that exists for students entering their post-secondary education.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic opted to pilot and implement the assessment-for-learning platform (called OCMT) which was designed by the 24 publicly funded Ontario Colleges as part of the College Math Project (CMP) and the subsequent College Student Achievement Project (CSAP). The CSAP conducted over a decade of research and field trials with over 10,000 students, leading to the development of the OCMT that has been effectively implemented to raise the level of numeracy for students at numerous post-secondary institutions across Canada.

In the Summer of 2020, Saskatchewan Polytechnic piloted the OCMT with about 200 students who were enrolled in their engineering and technology mathematics courses. The platform was introduced through Learning Services at the institution and integrated with the Learning Management System to provide students with single sign-on capabilities to access the platform.

The OCMT presented students with a diagnostic assessment that would help them identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Based on the results from the diagnostic assessment, students could upgrade their numeracy skills using interactive, voice-enabled modules. Upon completion of the modules, they could assess their progress through a comprehensive summative assessment. 

The results of the pilot led to modifications in the delivery of the platform to increase engagement and effectiveness. These included the ability for students to receive a certificate on successfully completing the OCMT. They were also awarded 5% marks in their respective courses on this achievement. 

In the Fall of 2021, the OCMT was rolled out to a larger group of students enrolled in the engineering, technology, and trades mathematics courses. With periodic communication to incoming students from Learning Services, program heads, and math instructors, student usage on the platform increased significantly. Additionally, data visualizations showed that once students were on the platform, many of them worked their way through all the upgrading modules and achieved high scores in the summative assessment. Student data on every topic area showed an overall increase in scores from the diagnostic to summative.

The success of these pilots have encouraged Saskatchewan Polytechnic to identify ways in which the OCMT can be made available to all students across the institution to raise the level of numeracy and prepare students for success in their math courses.

To learn more about how Saskatchewan Polytechnic is bridging the numeracy gap at their institution, feel free to reach out to their learning and assessment technology partners at info@vretta.com.  For information on the OCMT, visit ocmt.mathsuccess.ca