The City College of New York

The City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership Public Service Management Master's Program in New York, NY; Efficacy Study

Course: Basic Mathematics
Course Type: online pre-semester PREPARATORY course

Quick Stats:

Diagnostic Test Pass Rate Before vs. After Prep Course
61% Pass Rate on Pre-Test
95% Pass Rate on Post-Test

Diagnostic Test Scores After Completing Prep Course
Students’ average raw score increased by 19 points from Pre-Test
Average percent score increased 13 points for class as a whole
Average percent score increased 21 points for those who failed Pre-Test

Shift in Grade Distribution on Diagnostic Test
Pre-Test Grades:
– 8 out of 23 students (35%) scored above 80%
– 3 out of 23 students (13%) scored above 90%
Post-Test Grades:
– 18 out of 23 students (78%) scored above 80%
– 13 out of 23 students (57%) scored above 90%

During the summer of 2014, incoming students to the Public Service Management (PSM) Master’s program at The City College of New York participated in a mandatory pre-semester preparation course in basic mathematics using Hawkes Learning software. The purpose of the course was to remediate the students’ mathematics skills and prepare them for the first of three quantitative courses which constitute core requirements of the PSM program.

A total of 24 admitted students participated and were assigned 32 assignments each, which needed to be completed at an 80% mastery level or higher.

To accurately measure performance, all students took two diagnostic tests: a pre-test, administered at the beginning of the course, and a post-test, administered after students submitted all 32 Hawkes assignments. The tests were identical to each other, and students were not allowed to review their answers until after the course was over.

On average, students’ raw scores increased by 19 points, representing an average increase of 13 percentage points in their percent scores. Pass rates in the pre and post-tests increased from 61% to 95%.

More strikingly, the 39% who failed the pre-test experienced an average increase in their post-test of 21 percentage points. The increase experienced by this group is much higher than that experienced by the entire class, thereby indicating that this preparatory course very likely circumvented retention problems in the PSM program before students even began with their formal coursework.

Based on the success of the initial pilot, the PSM program decided to implement the preparatory math course in each year thereafter.


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