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In the meantime, I’ve done a little combination of our current face-to-face basic class and the LumenLearning Arithmetic to make a “sample syllabus” with a little less complex language.

Couple things to note: I don’t call the class “review.” Let’s build the foundations properly. If they’ve got stuff that’s already built, GREAT! Since many of ’em have some “already built” models that don’t hold up, let’s not use them, okay?

Homework counts almost half the class in my sample. This makes sense for our setting, where *getting homework done* is a huge priority, and the student who’s got somebody to help them too much is a rare bird. Doing Concrete-representational-abstract means there’s lots of “representational” on the page that your calculator won’t help you with Yes, I’d want to warn them (I deal with students in the later classes who are appalled that they can’t pass by Trying Hard and Acing the Homework — also, where having somebody to help too much is more common and they *can* use the calculator and avoid learning that -3-4 is -7 fluently.)

Regardless, at this level I think a visual of how important each chunk is of the final grade is helpful. I wish the numbers came out really nice and simple but … such is life. Here are the documents:

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Time to get my “three things added to the facts quiz sequence” that I’m trying to build on Canvas LEarning… but my commute thoughts are on making things adaptive. I just might get out my “Knows and Does” notes from Java 256 and play around with applying object-oriented design to adaptive learning.

“Why Learning is a New Procrastination” — No kidding! That’s where I am… time to create!

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I’m recalling the research at the school where the teachers needed to be convinced that there was a systemic problem; they got a new batch of students each semester. “In math, for example, more than half of all Black and Latino community college students are placed three or more levels below college (Perry, Bahr, Rosin and Woodward, 2010.” … and then the stats of how many people in that placement ended up passing a college level math course within four years…

So, University of Maryland’s developmental math says “There has been extensive experimentation with the computer program we use, and it has been successful in preparing students who conscientiously stick with it.” Doesn’t say the name of the program and you have to place into it; it’s to replace high school algebra I and II. There’s nothing there for people below that.

Staten Island on the other hand has a basic mathematics that’s arithmetic. Central Oregon Community College offers “MTH 010 – DEVELOPMENTAL MATHEMATICS Introduces mathematics and its application; explains language and symbols used in math; develops concepts in whole number, fraction and decimal operations and applications; and develops analytical thinking while emphasizing study and learning skills necessary for success in math courses and overcoming anxiety toward math.”

I found a list of “classes that use OER in Oregon.”

Adrienne Mitchell at Lane Community College uses, basically, Khan Academy videos and MyOpenMath. The teacher gets 2 great reviews on Rate My Professor saying she does a great job doing things online and really cares; here’s her file directory… there’s a lot about tackling math even if you’ve not had good experiences before; ways to reduce anxiety, advice to form study groups, etc. It includes writing formulas as soon as you get a test… and to write neatly and show all work, which hints at the “visual-kinesthetic memory” part of math that we underestimate and that my lessons would include Newest file is from 2013….hmmm… how dated is the list?

Okay, I found the “oer in Oregon” list and these are courses which are taught as a course, not a group “use the computer program” effort (big question: which one ends up being more personalized?)

And time to leave the rabbits and the voles… (which reminds me, I need to deal with a major mouse issue in the house…) Time for a ride!

… oh, not quite! … I found this about a teacher who was asked to teach an online arithmetic class and … it maxed out. AS in, okay, evidence that there is huge student demand for it.(It was free… and yea, hardly anybody actually finished it.) Okay, really time to ride now — but assumption based on this wee sample size is that yes, there are teachers out there like ours who *do* understand the students who need a whole lot more than a quick, boot-camp style review. As in, they might even appreciate things more conceptual and good-science-of-teaching based than Khan Academy, though I wouldn’t say for sure … Next “thing” — find those resources

… and… create a system for building in the extra confidence building review and connection building that these folks need (that part that ALEKS has started to include!) which I bet that David LIppman guy could do on one of those three day hackathons…

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My copy of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy” arrived yesterday. Page 3 has a gaffe where IQ and academic skills are conflated… but then I get to this:

“Lower Ed is not just a collection of schools or a set of institutional practices like profit taking and credential granting. Lower ed encompasses all credential expansion that leverages out faith in education without challenging its marketing imperatives and that preserves the status quo of race, class and gender inequalities in education and work. When we offer more credentials in lieu of a stronger social contract, it is Lower Ed. When we ask for social insurance and get workforce training, it is Lower Ed. When we ask for justice and get ‘opportunity,’ it is Lower Ed.”

That describes my misgivings when we discuss developing our programs designed to get somebody credentials as quickly as possible and not addressing the gross inequalities behind high school graduates having fifth grade skills. We’re not a “for profit” institution, so we don’t do the high pressure stuff to get people signing onto loans… but it’s there.

The role of Open Educational Resources and Open Education? It could open things up … or it could widen the divide, if OER don’t align with the educational paths of the people on the “Lower Ed” track. Like a public library that only the elite can actually get to… it’s not really “public.”

Today includes heading out to get the Transport with its new wheel and light setup, which I hope works (I hope they’ve really tested it out… )… and to at least try to find the old light for the Xtracycle and try to put ’em together… I *should* be able to get in a 100 mile week

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Still, I have designed a modified “opening day activity” with students in a basic arithmetic course.

I’ve tripped over some “how to make online courses” pages on some college & university sites, and was amused and impressed that many had sample syllabi and communications with students in different “flavors.” Fact is that expectations for “math for the terrified” are different from a “math boot camp” even if the content might be essentially the same.

So, this is my Google Docs version of the letter for the “college arithmetic” course. It starts with:

Welcome to Basic Mathematics. I have high hopes for this course, and I hope you do too. You may not believe it, but we really can have fun in this class!

This class is designed to do two main things:

- Help you understand basic math concepts
- Help you learn how *you* can learn math even when it’s hard.

I know that lots of people have had bad experiences with math. I don’t want this to be one. We’re in this together! It will help me to know how you think and feel about math. Please answer these questions seriously.

Since I have my new computer and they put GIMP in it… I could make little graphics for the yes and no and ‘meh’ points on the questionnaire about math.

Then it would be on to the naming numbers …

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This is worth the close read to get people from being more than a statistical category, and past “improvements were made.” It challenges me, because I could slip into agreeing with the people they mention who think lower achievers should be the higher priority…but there’s that “extreme racial homogeneity” problem. This article includes that students with the same grades and performance are less likely to be recommended for high level courses if they’re not White or Asian… as in *lots* less likely. The other painfully quotable quote:

But teaching advanced concepts to students who had not all had the chance to learn certain basic math skills, like the laws of exponents, proved more difficult than some had anticipated.

“I find they’re not very good at self-advocating when they’re lost or bored,” said another teacher, Marcelle Good. “I guess they’re used to being lost or bored.”

I’m fighting this every day. Many of my students do not really know what it’s like for math to “click” — and/or, if they do, it’s with that external locus of control. It’s not something *they* can work towards.

That’s why I’d have to do some serious adapting of course materials.

(I just looked at the other text option in “Arithmetic for College Students” and … I saw a cool chart for students to check off that they’d done the different elements of the course… but it is compressed and pretty much all about procedures. The Lippman text has a much friendlier presentation and shows rounding on the number line – the visual for why and how.)

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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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One of the authors blogged about it … and his thoughts match mine pretty precisely and thoroughly. There’s a link to comment there that doesn’t go anywhere He notes that the online course was graded more stringently — less attendance and effort kinds of grades — and that the Face to Face courses had more varied (and less organized) curricula, being more likely to go back and include more basic math than the online, which was all about recovering the second semester of the algebra, thank you (and it’s a K12 product, by the way — the folks who paid well for real experts for the early reading program, though I have no idea if that applies to this course).

He says that

“Even though the online class focused entirely on second semester algebra content, online students still did worse than the face-to-face group on second semester items on the study’s end-of-course test. A possible explanation: Online students, on average, completed only about two-thirds of the course by the end of the summer session.”

Another possible contributor: the lack of more basic understanding got in the way; the face to face teachers who slipped back to more basic stuff might have filled in some gaps.

Then there’s this dismal reality: the students who passed still did poorly. He notes multiple choice questions where fewer than 25% of students got ’em right — as in, had they all guessed, they’d have done that well. That’s consistent with Stigler’s analysis of what developmental students understand about math — where students consistently applied common misconceptions (and for some ideas, only got answers correct when it wasn’t possible to apply the common misconception). So… they might have “passed,” without really learning math.

Only about half the face-to-face students received a C or higher. Most of the others who earned credit barely passed with a D.

He concludes:

But what might happen if schools went beyond a Band-Aid approach? What if summer school offered students more time, with a coherent, more flexible curriculum? What might happen if a summer course attempted to repair not only students’ academic needs but also students’ attitudes about learning math and their ability to be math learners? These are some of the areas to seriously consider as schools design more robust learning experiences for at-risk students who need more than one chance to succeed.

LET’S DESIGN!!!!!!

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You say 1/2 x 100 and you get 200/4.

No, that’s not a student’s idea. That’s the “explanation” from Connect. You be the judge.

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