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The Modular Teaching Approach in College Algebra:
An Alternative to Improving the Learner’s Achievement, Persistence, and Confidence in Mathematics
Maxima J. Acelajado
De La Salle University
This experimental study used a pretest-posttest design to determine the effects of the modular teaching approach on the achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics of 24 freshmen (12 high ability and 12 low ability students) from the College of Business and Economics, De La Salle University, Manila, who were enrolled in College Algebra during the first term, schoolyear 2004–2005. The topics considered were those identified as difficult by students who have taken College Algebra, and by mathematics teachers who have handled this subject, namely, Systems of Linear Equations and Quadratic Inequalities in One Variable. The t-test applied on the pretest and posttest results of the two groups in all variables indicated significant differences at the .05 level of significance.

Keywords: achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics, assessment, experimental study.

A considerably low achievement in mathematics and a relatively low self-efficacy among students who are impatient in solving mathematical problems pose real great challenge to present day mathematics educators. This challenge may be addressed by introducing new programs of instructions, new instructional materials, and new teaching methods and approaches. In the light of the preceding arguments, this study attempted to use the modular teaching approach in College Algebra and investigate its effects on the students’ achievement, persistence, and confidence in mathematics.

Following are some literature and the findings of studies related to the concern of this paper.

On Modular Instruction
It is a fact that no two individuals are alike in their physical, mental, and emotional development: one may grow faster, another can easily recognize concepts, and still others tend to be more mature as compared to others of the same age. Travers, Pikaart, Suydam, and Runion (1977) emphasized that a student may be recognized as an individual by giving him tasks specifically geared to his needs and interests, and by providing him with instructional materials that will allow him to progress at an optimal rate on his own pace.

An intensive research on the psychological theories of learning such as the Theory of Concept Formation (Burger, 1986) and the Theory of Reinforcement (Skinner,1968) brought about the idea of modules which adopts the same format as programmed learning. True enough, the learner has the enthusiasm to pursue his studies if he is given the feedback about his performance and he is able to repeat reading the material for better understanding of the concepts under consideration.

Achievement in Mathematics
Cognizant of the differences among the students and motivated by a desire to determine the merits of the modular teaching approach, some related studies that were conducted in the past are as follows: Silva (1992) and Cachero (1994) developed and evaluated modules on selected topics in Algebra; Jimenez (1987) and Aquino (1988) in Geometry; Luna (1987) in Industrial Mathematics, Valeriano (1988) in Consumer Mathematics; Cudia (1985) and Parungao (1985) in Trigonometry; and Nocon (1992) in Statistics. All these studies made use of secondary school students as respondents and compared the achievements of the experimental and control groups. Almost always, modular instruction was found to be as effective as, if not more effective than, the traditional method based on the improved performance of the students in the respective subjects.

Cematu (1982), Young (1991) and Abalajon (1993) asserted that modular materials have established their edge over other kinds of materials in education because these serve as enrichment for fast learners and as review or remedial materials for slow learners in...
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