boring thought organizing

Posted on March 4, 2023


I’m perusing “how to do poster presentations” and oh, the audience is *so* clearly 20-something grad students trying to impress but this one from Hopkins looks good (LOL viewers will have different cognitive styles!).

The big picture? Let’s try this: SOME STUDENTS NEED DEVELOPMENTAL MATH.


Students are arriving at college without the math skills they need to succeed. Marilyn Burns’ Math: Facing an American Phobia and Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences are just two.

What is actually *happening* with adults in postsecondary educatoin?

I will examine trends over the past 20 years or so, including the scathing condemnation of developmental math courses as a “Bridge to Nowhere,” in support of giving folks direct access to college courses. “Co-requisites” have gained a lot of support — but when one pokes past the infographics, it reveals that many of these programs exacerbate inequities rather than bridge gaps.

In their own words: “best practices have demonstrated that as many as half of all current remedial students can succeed this way.” So, failing most students and ignoring the inequities behind the failures.

I’ll review research and opinions, exploring the assumption that most students know more math than assessments of assorted kinds indicate and the rather extensive evidence that many, many students *do not know basic math* (and how that can happen even if they are capable learners, BUT that the gaps are too big or the situations too complicated to be bridged with a quick fix (list those here). I’ll have links to research supported that the successful acceleration and co-requisite efforts are effective *for students at the margins* who almost qualified for college level math.

I’ll also have research about what *does* work for teaching adults math from number sense to statistics and reasonably advanced algebra, *and* how we haven’t tapped technology as we could/should. This includes Math in meaningful context working towards career goals, as well as ways to structure more advanced topics with visuals and concept organization so they are more cognitively accessible to more people — and taking the time to build the concepts as opposed to memorizing short cuts and calculator procedures. We ca do better than improving scores enough to get access to something slightly out of reach; we can improve *skills* and open many more doors and opportunites. And hey, if it’s OER it can SPREAD!!!

Locally, at Parkland College, class sizes have been capped in developmental math; co-requisites are being offered *for eligible students.* I’ll include the intensive support we have available, as well as the “intelligent agents” in our LMS, and our struggles and successes. We are also exploring developing an online module for adults who have minimal math knowledge and how to structure that for success so that at least innumeracy can be addressed — and for some students, a first opportunity to develop unrealized potential.

So: Outline

Current trends in postsecondary math

Who is it working for?

Who is being excluded? Why are we squelching expectations?

Why isn’t it working for them?

What WILL work?

What are we doing at Parkland? How’s it going?