Using Student Contracts To Increase Success In Math (2 of 5)

April 27, 2010 at 6:44 am 2 comments

Yesterday I started a series based on my student contracts. I used a contract to reward student based on persistence, performance, and attendance. Click here to see the first blog in the series.

Today I share data from the first semester I used student contracts.


I began with 54 students enrolled, and 49 of them were still enrolled on the last day of class. The retention rate was 90.7%. For all other sections of Intermediate Algebra offered that semester on campus, the retention rate was 82.1%, so my retention rate was 8.6% above the campus wide rate that semester. (As another reference point, my retention rate for the same course during the previous semester was 85.9%.)


30 students of the original 54 students, or 55.6% of the class, satisfied the contract and passed the class. Think about that! More than half of the students scored 100% on every homework assignment that semester, averaged at least 80% on all of their quizzes, averaged at least 70% on all of their exams, and missed no more than 2 days of class. If someone told me on day 1 that I would have results like those, then I would consider that semester a success.

Another 7 students passed the class without meeting the contract’s requirements, bringing the total number of successful students to 37 out of 54 or 68.5%. This was roughly 20% higher than the campus wide success rate for this course that semester. There were 12 students (22.2%) that failed the class, and another 5 (9.3%) that dropped the course. The following table compares these results to my intermediate algebra classes taught the previous semester as well as the campus wide results for intermediate algebra that semester.

My Class

With Contract

My Classes

No Contract



Pass 68.5% 49.4% 48.3%
Fail 22.2% 36.5% 33.8%
Drop 9.3% 14.1% 17.9%
Retention 90.7% 85.9% 82.1%

Test Grades

The test scores seem to have been positively affected by the use of a student contract. 35% of the students had an A test average, 74% had a test average that was a B or higher, and 86% had a test average that was a C or higher. (The cut off for an A is 90%, 80% for a B, and 70% for a C.) The following table compares these results to my intermediate algebra courses that were taught the previous semester.

Average With Contract No Contract
A 35% 12%
B 39% 21%
C 12% 36%
D 8% 9%
F 6% 22%

I also noticed that a greater percentage of the students were passing each exam. The following table lists the success rate (C or higher) for each exam, and compares it to the results of my Intermediate Algebra classes from the previous semester.

Success Rate On Each Exam
With Contract No Contract
Test 1 – Transition 83% 74%
Test 2 – Radicals 79% 55%
Test 3 – Quadratic 80% 62%
Test 4 – Functions 76% 61%
Test 5 – Exp./Logs 71% 36%
Test 6 – Conics 94% 92%

Finally, here are the mean scores for each exam. Again, notice the amount of increase. The increase was highest on test 2 (Radicals) and test 5 (Exponential & Logarithmic Functions). Students traditionally struggle with these topics, but my students did very well.

Mean Score On Each Exam
With Contract No Contract
Test 1 – Transition 83.0 77.6
Test 2 – Radicals 79.6 67.6
Test 3 – Quadratic 79.7 73.8
Test 4 – Functions 81.0 71.8
Test 5 – Exp./Logs 75.0 58.3
Test 6 – Conics 93.1 88.5

In the next installment I will share observed benefits from the first semester.

I hope you find this series on student contracts to be helpful. If you have any questions, or experience with student contracts that you would like to share, I encourage you to leave a comment, or reach me through the contact page at my web site – Come back tomorrow for part 3 in the series – Benefits.

– George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math, MyMathLab, study skills. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Using Student Contracts To Increase Success In Math (1 of 5) Last Weekend – CalADE & MML Forum aty CSUN

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