In 2009, Cañada College created the Math Jam to address the low level of math preparation of underrepresented students studying STEM, allowing students to “test out” of math courses. Initially the program was designed as an intensive math-placement preparation and has since evolved into a campus-wide math-success program, serving students in Pre-Algebra through Advanced Calculus. Participants become connected with faculty, tutors, peers, and the STEM Center, further strengthening student engagement and course success rates in subsequent college coursework. Math Jam is offered three times per year (January, June, and August) with daytime and evening sessions to accommodate student work schedules and family obligations. In 2013, the Math Jam program received the J. Russell Kent Exemplary Program Award from the San Mateo County School Boards Association.
Math Jam’s primary goals are to: 1) reduce the completion time for an associates degree and/or transfer to a 4-year institution, 2) improve readiness for college-level math courses, 3) increase student awareness of the skills and tools they need to be successful STEM students, and 4) develop a community of learners among Math Jam participants.
Math Jam has served over 1000 students since its inception in 2009, growing from 50 students in 2009 to 482 in 2012. Three primary indicators measure effectiveness: (1) Jump Rates: an average of 62% of Math Jam participants who retook the math placement test “jumped” to the next level math course or higher. (2) Retention & Success: Analysis of students’ performance in next semester math courses shows significantly higher retention (93% vs. 77%) and success (77% vs. 53%) rates among Math Jam participants compared to non-participants and among Hispanic participants versus Hispanic non-participants (Retention: 94% vs. 75% and Success: 74% vs. 47%). Seventy-eight percent of the 2009 Math Jam cohort remain enrolled after four semesters vs. 32% of all first-time students. (3) STEM enrollment: The total number of students enrolled in STEM courses went from 2,074 in 2008 to 2,974 in 2012, a 43% increase. Enrollment in STEM transfer-level courses has increased: math +189%, chemistry +148%, engineering +126%, physics +69.3%, and biology +24.5%. The percentage increase in minority student enrollment in these courses is significantly higher for both engineering (233.3% for minority vs. 87.8% for non-minority) and mathematics (224.4% for minority vs. 173.3% for non-minority.