Thread 4

Posted on September 18, 2018


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So… how can courses be improved?   Some ideas:

Saxon D, Martirosyan N. NADE Members Respond: Improving Accelerated Developmental Mathematics Courses. Journal Of Developmental Education [serial online]. Fall2017 2017;41(1):24-27

The top 3 challenges to running “supported accelerated courses” which happen to be really consistent with students not understanding the math:

  •  Attendance  “students who either have the credit-bearing course w/ another professor or who are not doing well do not attend the support class.”
  • Pace:   Too fast for some students; they can’t keep up w/ homework.
  • Student learning:  they don’t have time to digest material.  “Students who take the course a second time do not seem to have remembered anything from the first time. They have to work through the same units again which is frustrating.”  (emphasis added)

… and… what do the teachers doing these courses say?   Remember the caveat earlier about recognizing that faculty do think some students need more time and more remediation. Also, from

Cafarella B. Acceleration and Compression in Developmental Mathematics: Faculty Viewpoints. Journal Of Developmental Education [serial online]. Winter2016 2016;39(2):12-25.

  • ” Works really well for some students, but it’s totally unfair to so many other students.”
  • “We have some students that simply have gaps in their math knowledge, and they don’t need as much instruction, but we also have so many low level students, and it’s not fair to push them this far.”

And the student attitudes?

This was the real icing on the cake for me.

Benken, B. M., Ramirez, J., Xuhui, L., & Wetendorf, S. (2015). Developmental Mathematics Success: Impact of Students’ Knowledge and Attitudes. Journal Of Developmental Education, 38(2), 14-31.

This study attempted to create a “detailed picture” of developmental math students “both in terms of their mathematical preparation and affect.”

While it stated that pre-college courses needed to address conceptual and procedural knowledge, it didn’t  address whether this actually happened in the courses.

Pre- and post- course surveys about attitudes were administered.

The most “extremely significant” change in attitude?

Increase in the opinion that some people have a knack for mathematics and some don’t.

Since students didn’t increase in liking math, I can hazard a pretty safe guess where they think they fall in that categorization.


Next:   what can be done???? who’s doing it???


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