Avila Now

June 4, 2021

Moshonov-Cohavi Receives JLP Faculty Innovation Grant

Hadas Moshonov-Cohavi, Assistant Professor of Mathematics in the School of Computer Science & Mathematics, received the Jeanne Lillig Patterson (JLP) Faculty Innovation Grant this May to examine the efficacy of standardized testing in college admissions. The nearly $5000 award will allow Moshonov-Cohavi to develop guiding principles for advisors to accurately place incoming students into appropriate math courses without relying on SAT, ACT or Accuplacer scores.

Headshot of Hadas Moshonov-Cohavi
Hadas Moshonov-Cohavi, Ph.D., assistant professor of Mathematics.

“I am delighted and honored to receive the Jeanne Lillig Patterson Faculty Innovation Grant to expand my research on improving math placement measures and procedures to replace the standardized testing that sometimes fail as a predictor of college success,” Moshonov-Cohavi said. “My research outcomes are closely tied with realizing the worth, dignity and potential of each human being—a core value of Avila and its founders. I hope that this work will make higher education more approachable for prospective students, regardless of their background.”

Inspired by the Missouri Mathematics Pathways Initiative, Moshonov-Cohavi developed, implemented and taught co-requisite courses in core mathematics courses beginning in Fall 2017. The initiative “strives to identify alternative entry-level mathematics courses most effective and beneficial for each academic major.” In January 2019, Avila formally signed an institutional letter of commitment to the Missouri Department of Higher Education to participate in the Carnegie Initiative for Moving Mathematics Pathways to Normative Practice.

Her current study concentrates on outcomes from the first classes to take the co-requisite course. The primary goal of the study is to develop models for math placement to be utilized by academic advisors utilizing a survey of first year mathematics students in the past two academics years (2018-19 and 2019-20). Moshonov-Cohavi said research has shown addressing competency and career goals improves student retention and success.

“Universities across the country have already begun moving away from solely using tests like the SAT and ACT toward using multiple measures,” she said. “Research suggests these tests disadvantage students from various minorities—potentially cutting off access to different fields of study and subsequent careers unnecessarily.”

In addition to the grant, Moshonov-Cohavi recently received the Distinguished Teaching Award for her development and successful implementation of the co-requisite support math course. The award—which recognizes excellence in teaching which serves the Avila mission and includes a stipend for the upcoming academic year—is well-deserved according to Darrin Smith, professor of Chemistry and dean of the College of Science and Health which includes the School of Computer Science and Mathematics.

“Dr. Moshonov-Cohavi’s excellence in the classroom and interest in improving math education for all students is an excellent example of the Avila mission in action,” Smith said. “There is a growing body of research that shows course completion and student confidence is improved when students take courses appropriate for their knowledge and career goals. Through her study, Hadas will help Avila create entrance criteria and procedures to serve as a model for other programs at Avila and beyond.”

For more information about Moshonov-Cohavi’s work and the School of Computer Science & Mathematics, please visit the latter’s homepage here.

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