Translate into a different language

Friday, October 10, 2014

Who Needs Algebra? New Approach To College Math Helps More Pass.

"Let's start with a little word problem. Sixty percent of the nation's 12.8 million community college students are required to take at least one course in subject X. Eighty percent of that 60 percent never move on past that requirement." continues
NPR (blog).

  1. Let Y = the total percentage of community college students prevented from graduating simply by failing that one subject, X. What is Y?
    The answer: Y = 48.
  2. And if you haven't guessed it by now, What is X?
    The answer: Subject X equals the course sequence known as developmental or remedial math, and especially its final course, algebra.
"Here at LaGuardia, and at every community college in the country, it is the single most-failed course, and the gateway" that determines who graduates, says Gail Mellow, the president of LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y.

Mellow is one of a growing number of educators out there who believe it may be time to rethink the algebra requirement.

"More than half of the students who come to LaGuardia are not ready for college-level math," she says. "We're pretty typical that way. Should we take them back through high school just because math is important? Or should we take seriously the fact that these are adults, they're overwhelmingly poor, and we want to give them the type of skills that will be useful in their lives?"

'What Is The Purpose?'

Ashjame Pendarvis, 20, is studying in the lounge at the University of the District of Columbia Community College with her laptop, calculator and papers spread around her. She's taking the most basic level of math at UDC.

Ashjame Pendarvis, a first-year community college student, works on her math homework at the University of District of Columbia. 
Elissa Nadworny/NPR

She plans on majoring in infant and early childhood education, but she has to get two semesters of remedial math out of the way before she can start on courses relevant to her major, and two more of college-level math before she can graduate — a typical required math sequence.

"I feel like, if math isn't important in your career, then there is no need for it in college," she says. "What's the purpose of wasting your time and your money?"

Anyone who's had to deal with math homework probably has heard, or uttered, a version of that complaint. What's surprising is that educators like Mellow agree with Pendarvis.

They're trying a new way of teaching math that gets rid of most algebra altogether. It's being tested on almost 5,000 students across the country. So far, many more students are succeeding in the courses, which abandon traditional math sequences in favor of new content, new teaching techniques and even a little psychology.

Source: NPR (blog)

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my Email Updates!