Arright, I’ve done the “pitch” for the MIT EdX course. I didn’t even go back and read the directions to see whether I’d “followed directions” as far as formatting things goes on the grounds that it’s not as if this pitch is *going* anywhere further, and now it’s time to get back to the other MOOC because that stuff *will* go further.
But… for the record… (and of course I”ve edited this seven times — I added the “research questions” and the links to my assorted other related posts, including the one about POOCS — Personalized Open Online Courses… )
https://youtu.be/HHMfmv5kjwY — link to pitchI’m trying to attach the ‘paper’ part… we’ll see if it breaks…yup, uploading (shudder!) a microsoft document is verboten.
Miss Sue’s Modest Plan for Making Math Accessible
Before I was hired as an “academic development specialist” at Parkland College, I was a teacher specializing in LD and gifted education. I taught at The New Community School, where we focused on starting where the student was and building bridges between the concrete and the abstract, and consciously connecting language to those concepts. I watched students get smarter before my eyes. Many of them were bright and gifted students who were struggling in school. I wondered then, as I wonder now, why we don’t use our technology tools to facilitate that connection between visual learning and symbols.
Many of them, though, *weren’t* particularly bright or gifted. Guess what? They got smarter when the teaching was better. I don’t just mean they learned more things; I mean, they got better at learning.
People are already using what is available on line at sites like the Khan Academy, and commercial products such as ALEKS. These resources teach procedures, not concepts. Unfortunately, most people think that that is the best and/or only way to teach math, or, that a focus on understanding should be reserved for those deemed to have a natural affinity towards math. When colleges have used these resources, results have been disappointing.1
There are current efforts at making math instruction more conceptual at early grades, and for encouraging students to try to understand instead of memorize. More than 65,000 people registered for Stanford’s “How to Learn Math” by Jo Boaler. However, this hasn’t reached my students.
Current trends in keeping developmental math from being a “bridge to nowhere”2 are generally of the “accelerated” variety, to get students into college placement quickly. At conferences, when someone asks about the students who need more… there’s an uncomfortable silence, or “guide them to credentials that don’t require math.” There is some research emerging now supporting changing our instruction to focus on meaning, but it hasn’t even begun to touch the technology-based instructional materials. 3
My resources would address these students. Animation and visuals would enable students to experience and explore math concepts — and then, explicitly, bridge from that to the math terminology and language that they need to understand. They’d be organized in a carefully sequenced course that would facilitate making cognitive connections (instead of assuming that they happen by “letting students struggle,” or having them complete lots and lots of practice). At The New Community School, including making connections as part of student activities is one of the reasons the students become more independent learners.
When we caption movies and build ramps, we make education accessible to people who’d otherwise not be able to reach higher levels of learning. I believe we can make learning cognitively accessible by appropriately designing instruction to provide a scaffold to deeper understanding. I firmly believe that many of societies inequities are based on a hidden “weed certain people out” agenda behind the “well, if it isn’t hard, they won’t learn anything.” Math *is* hard. It shouldn’t be impossible for people who don’t have a Grandma Kathy to explain it the way they learn or money to go to the right schools.
I’ve got the expertise in reaching challenging students… I have limited expertise in visual design. I’ve created an app that could be used as a prototype – screenshot is at the end. I’ll be sharing it with the math department at The New Community School soon at their request. I’m hoping we can use it with our Transitions course, which we’re currently revising and preparing to share with the Open Education Resources community on several venues.
However, this just isn’t a one-person when-things-aren’t-busy-in-the-lab project. I dream of being able to ask somebody who actually knows app-building beyond our CSC 212 how to best display scores, etc. on the screen… oh, and make better GIMP images than “skillsmounds.” 4 When I dream big, I’m on a collaborative team with a project manager and we’re going to make the first draft of the course with app happen by August 1, with a cognitively accessible Math MOOC ready for prime time Jan 1, 2017.
It’s time to stop dreaming, now, and get back to building… Thanks for your time!
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/08/28/community-college-new-jersey-struggles-break-through-adaptive-math-courses — Article about results using ALEKS being disappointing. (Parkland College abandoned using ALEKS with its most basic course because of extremely poor results.)
2 http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/blog/remediation-higher-educations-bridge-to-nowhere/ Remediation: Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere.
3 Hern, Katie; Snell, Myra. New Directions for Community Colleges. Fall2014, Vol. 2014 Issue 167, p27-39. 13p. (The California Acceleration Project: Reforming Developmental Education to Increase Student Completion of College-Level Math and English) DOI: 10.1002/cc.20108. , Database: Professional Development Collection (this article includes mentioning success rates of 3-6 % for students starting 3 levels below college level in Math, and notes that over 50% of Black and Latino students are placed at that level.)
4 https://resourceroomblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/dont-ask/ (post of “worst case intervention” per the MOOC assignment).
Selected Supporting research
Key Misconceptions in Algebraic Problem Solving Julie L. Booth
(email@example.com) Kenneth R. Koedinger (firstname.lastname@example.org) Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 15213http://pact.cs.cmu.edu/koedinger/pubs/BoothKoedingerCogSci2008.pdf
One of the authors also wrote an article about this research that appears in the International Dyslexia Association’s _Perspectives_ called “Why Can’t Students Get the Concept of Math?” which can be found
at http://www.resourceroom.net/Math/perspectives_dyslexia_math.pdf .
What Community College Developmental Mathematics Students Understand About Mathematics
FACING THE CHALLENGE OF NUMERACY IN ADULT EDUCATION