Thread 2

Posted on September 16, 2018


Part 1      Part 2   Part 3  Part 4   Part 5   Part 6

Part 2 of a summary of research (including some summaries of research :)) about mathematics and adult education and developmental / remedial math in colleges.

Stigler, J.W. et al. (2010) What community college developmental mathematics students understand about mathematics. MathAMATYC Educ. 10, 4–16

This article is full full full of interviews and information about what students *understand* about math.   Here’s a little table w/ the questions most missed and the mistakes they made.

Some patterns:

  • Errors & interviews indicated student perception that “math” was about procedures.
  • Students didn’t understand fractions.

The big one, to me:

  • Students tended to look at a problem and perform what seemed an appropriate procedure, without considering whether it made sense and might require an extra step or different interpretation
  • The ten questions that were answered correctly by the most students could all be answered by performing the obvious procedure, without interpretation.


Perhaps my favorite paragraphs:

Currently there is great interest in reforming developmental mathematics education at the community college. Yet, it is worth noting that almost none of the reforms have focused on actually changing the teaching methods and routines that define the teaching and learning of mathematics in community colleges.

In particular, we are interested in exploring the hypothesis that these students who have failed to learn mathematics in a deep and lasting way up to this point might be able to do so if we can convince them, first, that mathematics makes sense, and then provide them with the tools and opportunities to think and reason.



Let me propose the radical idea that this shouldn’t be limited to students who fail by a little bit.   This should include students who are coming in with the lowest standing… especially since this tends to be marginalized and/or minority students.

Okay, Part 3 is:   what is the current state of developmental education — but I’ve about used up my time allotted for this.

Part 1      Part 2   Part 3  Part 4   Part 5   Part 6

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