This presentation by a faculty member and student will provide both qualitative and quantitative evidence on whether Lumen Learning's Next Generation Waymaker platform leads to better student outcomes, in terms of engagement and learning, than commercial texts for the courses.
The Waymaker platform was released in beta in August 2016 and pilot-tested at a variety of universities across the country for four courses over the 2015-2016 academic year. The courses were Introduction to Business, Principles of Marketing, Principles of Macroeconomics and Principles of Microeconomics. We participated in the pilot test, as student and instructor in using the platform while taking/teaching the two principles of economics courses at the University of Mary Washington.
Waymaker is more than a digital text. Modified from the OpenStax Principles of Economics text, Waymaker includes video, animations and simulations, which are particularly helpful in learning analytic subjects like economics. Waymaker also includes several aspects of personalized learning, based on a mastery-learning approach.
Waymaker is more than a source of course content. It is designed to promote metacognition by the students, as well as to provide actionable intelligence about student learning to both the student and the instructor.
Students begin each module with a formative assessment to identify what content they already know, and therefore where they should efficiently put their learning effort-namely, the content they do not know. As students progress through the content, they take a series of short formative quizzes. If they do not achieve mastery on a quiz, Waymaker suggests they review the content before attempting the quiz again. At the end of the module, students take a module quiz, which is summative but weighted very little. Again, if they fail to achieve mastery, they are encouraged to study again before redoing the module quiz. The philosophy is that assessments are activities to support the learning activities; they are not simply or primarily about grades.
The instructor receives reports from the module quizzes whenever a student fails to achieve mastery. This allows the instructor to reach out to offer help and encouragement to students who are struggling. We used the Waymaker platform in online courses where often it is difficult for the instructor to know how students are faring. The Waymaker reports allow instructors to efficiently allocate their time to the students that need it.
In this presentation, we will
1. Briefly demonstrate the Waymaker platform; 2. Present our personal perspectives (student & instructor) on how the platform worked; 3. Present survey results of student perceptions from the two classes; and 4. Present results of a statistical analysis comparing student outcomes on the final exam compared to outcomes obtained using commercial textbooks.