Beyond Placement: Cultivating Student-Driven Readiness for Success in Mathematics

Christina Perdikoulias
Christina Perdikoulias
President, DigitalEd

Mathematics Readiness

Placement tests have long been the gatekeepers of higher ed mathematics; and yet, their efficacy in ensuring student readiness success may create more roadblocks than pathways. This is especially true in the ever-evolving landscape of education, particularly in online delivery. The question of how to best prepare students for success in mathematics as they begin their higher-education journey is a pivotal one. 

Traditional methods often lean heavily on placement tests and rigid assessments that gauge a student’s competencies, determining what courses they would be permitted to take in their first year. This ultimately shapes their pathway to attaining their goals and influences their relationship with mathematics for years to come. 

Most students are neither perfectly prepared or woefully unprepared in key mathematics skills. They exist in a less precise middle zone where placement tests alone are likely to misclassify their readiness levels. Studies have shown that a student who has been referred to developmental or remedial coursework has mixed outcomes and does not significantly improve chances of eventually earning a valuable credential or degree. What’s more: disadvantaged students and students of color are disproportionately harmed by these high-stake approaches.

The need to re-examine how we look at student readiness is becoming more prevalent, as well as advocating to prioritize a model that not only empowers students but aligns with the changing needs of higher education. Let’s explore the compelling case for embracing a more holistic and student-driven approach to mathematics readiness.

1. Student Abilities Are Not Static

A student’s mindset plays a pivotal role in their academic journey. Relying solely on placement tests can inadvertently reinforce a fixed mindset that undermines student confidence and can often hinder their path to degree attainment. Readiness assessments evaluate competencies by incorporating various types of measures that can inspire a growth mindset. 

How this can be achieved: By leveraging over a dozen different question types available in the Möbius Platform, such as multiple choice, true/false, sketching,  mathematical formulas, clickable images, math applications, and diverse question variations can successfully evaluate student knowledge and readiness since they appeal to the dynamic and unique ways students think and comprehend.

2. The Power of Student-Driven Readiness

Standardized placement tests can be daunting for many students, leading to math anxiety and a lack of confidence. Employing readiness assessments as a complement to these tests identify and reinforce a student’s existing strengths, promoting a growth mindset centered on student empowerment, as well as nurturing learners who are active, motivated, and invested in their success. 

How this can be achieved: Student self-assessments and readiness tools like Möbius allow for flexible and dynamic learning pathways that boost confidence. The Möbius Platform is built to provide meaningful, instant feedback, creating a safe environment where students can evaluate their understanding as soon as they complete a task, assignment, or assessment. It also provides the incentive to review their work and sharpen their skills independently—building their confidence and ultimately resulting in better outcomes.

Additionally, Möbius provides educators with valuable insights into student strengths and weaknesses, enabling targeted support and interventions. The dynamic, interactive nature of this platform fosters self-directed, adaptive learning.

3. Create Pathways for Student Success and Equity

A holistic readiness approach acknowledges that students may require different pathways to success, considering factors such as prior educational experiences, cultural influences, and socioeconomic background. Determining a student’s readiness through exploratory assessments allows educators to provide complementary support and resources to meet individual needs.

How this can be achieved: A student-centric approach ensures that resources are allocated where they are most beneficial. Create a personalized learning journey for your students that can be completed at a self-directed pace. Incorporate Mobius’ adaptive assignments that automatically generate practice questions with immediate feedback and interactive discovery tools.


Are You Ready to Embrace Student Readiness?

Is it time for your institution to prioritize innovative student readiness programs? Let us show you how your students can perform better, stay motivated, and achieve their academic goals. Chat with us today!