Posted on February 16, 2017


A busy Thursday but happily including testimony that ‘when I walked in here I didn’t understand any of this, and now I have it!’   🙂

I’m reading Katie Novak and Tom Thibodeau’s “OER in the Cloud” book (which, CAST, doesn’t get found from searching your site! I had to go to the publishing site), and I’m looking closely at the “College Arithmetic” book that Lippman remixed from the folks at NROC. I remember being  impressed with   EdReady’s use of the NROC materials.  They have videos that connect math to “everyday life” and they do it well.

The first thing I note about the Lippman remix is that it’s — at least on first impression, but that’s rather important — very “traditional math course” approach.   The suggested syllabus is conversational and realistic, but it’s very much of academic culture.  I do like the “doing your homework and studying are not the same thing.”

This is also not a particularly “fault-resistant” setup (per Uri Treisman ).   Miss class? No makeup.    That makes sense for some settings, but not mine. Likewise for  students being told not to ask for  help until they’ve done several things, such as trying to create a simpler example…. I can tell you that many of the folks in an arithmetic course do not know what that means.  Students might now be learning “mathematical practices” per the Common Core standards,  but the ones we’re seeing at college at  the arithmetic level have likely been using other “practices” to survive.

People who need to take arithmetic in college are (highly) likely to have some significant obstacles to overcome when it comes to learning math.    Dorothea Steinke’s “Evaluating Number Sense in Workforce Students” (link to full text is on that page) shows that many adult learners lack a critical number concept:   the “part / whole” concept that numbers aren’t separate discrete entities, but that we can think about “ten” as “ten” … but also as 5+5, etc.  And yes, I’m reminded again of  Stigler’s “they memorize there way through high school” study again.  The students who did better… had memorized better… so even people landing in pre-algebra and algebra were hurting when it came to understanding.  The ones in arithmetic often don’t have good memorizing skills, either.

In our Transitions course (for students who don’t place into Pre-Algebra), we start with a survey, which includes the “number line assessment” that Dorothea Steinke uses, as well as a few other math questions.

I’m making one … that’ll probably be tomorrow’s after-work post…


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