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University of Phoenix and zyBooks to present interactive approach to teaching math at 2021 Online Learning Consortium Conference

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By University of Phoenix

Presentation will focus on how university’s reimagined approach to teaching math significantly reduced student attrition

Math is hard for most. And for decades, math attrition has been a challenge in education, including higher education. While new knowledge has been discovered in the field of mathematics education to better support students, many of those theories have not successfully been translated into practice in higher education.

However, University of Phoenix is applying many of those theories in a reimagined approach to teaching math, and its efforts are resulting in lower attrition rates among students.

University of Phoenix and zyBooks will present these outcomes at the Online Learning Consortium Conference, being held virtually March 15-19, 2021. Jacquelyn Kelly, Ph.D., associate dean in the College of General Studies at University of Phoenix and Alex Edgcomb Ph.D., senior software engineer at zyBooks, will discuss their recent white paper, Theory to Practice: Closing the Gap in Undergraduate Math to Reduce Student Attrition, which discusses the efforts of the university, in partnership with zyBooks, that were utilized to reduce math course attrition rates through a multi-modality approach to teaching math.

By making math more interactive—through the addition of animation, auto-graded questions, immediate feedback and other interventions—students became more engaged yet could work at their own speed. These efforts not only promoted greater understanding and retention of the math concepts, but also successfully reduced the student dropout and failure rate.

This new model of math learning improved student confidence and helped them to recognize how math applies in their everyday lives. In addition to students reacting more positively to math, the dropout and failure rate in classes also significantly decreased. In a pilot study of two courses, the attrition rate was reduced from 18% to 5% in a Quantitative Reasoning 1 and from 14% to 4% in a Quantitative Reasoning 2.

“For decades undergraduate students have struggled with general education math classes leading to a high rate of attrition in these courses,” said University of Phoenix’s Kelly. “We have been able to drastically reduce the attrition rate and build confidence in students by using an interactive learning model and implementing course features from effective learning theories.” Kelly continued. “In addition to helping our students, a key byproduct of this work is offering a blueprint for other institutions to similarly support their students in math courses and work to reduce attrition.”

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is committed to creating equitable spaces where academics, practitioners, students and staff can work together across their unique experiences to build truly inclusive communities, learning environments and support experiences. The Innovate 2021 conference is fully online and aims to challenge teaching and learning paradigms, reimagine the learning experience, and ideate on how disruptions in education today will shape the innovative classroom of tomorrow.

For more information about the session, check out Best Practice and Course Reconceptualization in Online Undergraduate Quantitative Reasoning

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses and interactive learning help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. We serve a diverse student population, offering degree programs at select locations across the U.S. as well as online. For more information, visit

About zyBooks, A Wiley Brand
zyBooks is professor-founded, focused on helping college STEM students graduate. A zyBook is web-native courseware that uses minimal text, and instead consists of question sets, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework, so students can learn by doing. We keep prices as low as possible, provide the best support we can, and make the zyBook platform easy to use for students and instructors. We have provided courseware to 900,000+ students at over 900 academic institutions, and we’re growing fast. For more information, visit