Tara’s Needs Assessment Reflection

Upon receiving feedback on our needs assessment, the majority of my peers made similar comments regarding my audience members. In analyzing the results, it is interesting to discover that all of the instructors, who are a part of the Developmental Mathematics Team, are completely qualified to teach the course, but the majority of them lack the educational background needed for implementing different teaching techniques fitting the students’ needs. My partner and I are fortunate enough to have audience members who are flexible and willing to learn something new—even if it means creating more work for them. Of times, we see teachers and professors create a lesson and reuse it from year to year. It is common for instructors to make minor changes to the lesson the next time they teach it, but major changes are often unheard of (this was one of the questions asked while conducting the needs analysis). I think what is special about the group of people our capstone project is being designed for is that all of them truly believe in this program; they have all been instructors for many years, and they see what this program can push students to do and develop into. I firmly believe all of the instructors included in this workshop genuinely want what is best for their students, and they are willing to make the necessary changes to make their instruction better in order to make the program better. The entire team mentioned they could see this class as the class to implement differentiated instruction in because it is logical given their population of students. Additionally, the instructors of the Developmental Mathematics Team are generally receptive to change. The program just went through a curriculum modification and program upgrade, so instructors are currently in the transition from using the MyMathLab program that was implemented for many years to the newer, more interactive program.

It was clear that all of the participants saw a pattern in students across years and semesters, saw a need for differentiated instruction to be implemented in the class, and realized they needed the knowledge to do so. All of the members were aware of the strategy and realized the amount of students who would benefit from this type of instruction because it perfectly fits the model and philosophy of this class, which incorporates a holistic approach. I believe the participants were honest about their methods and philosophies of teaching; both my partner and I have assisted them in their classes, so we were already aware of the strategies the instructors use on a daily basis. With any type of form, it is easy for a person to have certain biases, but I believe the responses were truthful and representative of who they are as instructors (despite it being it was anonymous).

An improvement that could have been made to our needs analysis pertains to one of the questions asked during the initial baseline data survey (Google Forms). The question, which could have been worded better, was, “In your experience, have you come across a pattern in regards to the range of variation of abilities between students enrolled in Developmental Mathematics across the semesters?” When creating questions, my partner and I tried to avoid using yes or no questions because we wanted to get the most information possible, however, the way this question is phrased did not reflect our efforts. Luckily, all of the participants responded with the types of patterns they have noticed from teaching this course with detailed explanations, not just a single word answer. As such, even with this mistake, it was not detrimental to our results because we still attained the necessary information to make the proper recommendations. This needs analysis, along with my peers’ critiques, show the clear need for training instructors in differentiated instruction, which can only be attributed to the open-mindedness of the Developmental Mathematics Team.

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