This year’s Mathematics Summit was held as a two-day preconference event at the NADE Annual Conference in Anaheim in March. Once again the Summit brought together those in the “front lines” of developmental mathematics education and first credit math courses to discuss different approaches for implementing, adjusting, or redesigning mathematics courses with the methods that work best. It was my privilege to be invited to attend as a mentor for educators planning math reforms and course redesign.
Mathematics reform in developmental and first credit–level mathematics courses is an issue that many deal with on a daily basis. Faculty and department chairs are too often given a mandate by college administrators or legislators about how these classes are to be taught. Some disgruntled faculty members refer to this kind of thing as the “initiative du jour.” Some of these mandated initiatives have actually resulted in lower pass rates—which then require faculty to adjust their design and teaching strategies to improve success in these courses. Other colleges need to assess the results of the redesigns that they have already undertaken. With all of the reform rhetoric and initiatives, the convening of this Math Summit was a response to a request by faculty and chairs for networking and sharing of strategies for implementing, improving, and assessing redesigns.
The process of course redesign certainly took center stage at the Summit. Of special interest to me was the charge to participants to create a Math Success Plan for College Innovation to take back to their campuses. The steps the Summit outlined for the Math Success Plan are applicable to innovations of any kind, including strategic pathways and curriculum alignment:
- Rational: Problem/Gap and Desired Outcome
- Proposal: National Models and Interventions
- Selection of Strategies: Fit For Campus Needs and Resources
- Identify and Involve Sponsors and Stakeholders: Internal and External
- Design Principles: Sustainability, Scalability, Budget
- Assessment Plan: Outcomes/Success Measures. College Data Collection, Implications
- Faculty Development Needs: Budget, Resources, Faculty Ownership and Engagement
- Potential Concerns and Issues: Identify and Plan for Obstacles and Roadblocks
- Timeline: Implementation, Evaluation, Adjustments, Longevity
- Stakeholder Communication Plan: Internal, External, All Phases
The level of engagement by the record 290 participants at the Summit was remarkable. Faculty and administrators were 100% involved—no Disneyland or extracurricular activities for this group! Ideas flowed freely, all focused on students succeeding and completing developmental and first-year college math courses. Several of the sessions included examples of curriculum collaboration with local feeder high schools, other departments at the college, and employers. However, most of those examples were lacking an institutional focus on developing collegewide, intentional, and coherent strategic pathways for math students.
EPIC’s opportunities in the developmental and first-year college math courses are enormous. In no other area of the curriculum is the need greater—math courses are most certainly THE gateway courses!
The sponsors, cosponsors, and partners included major organizations supporting and promoting mathematics (including developmental) education:
- AMATYC, Association of Mathematics at Two-Year Colleges
- NADE, National Association for Developmental Education
- MAA, Mathematics Association of American
- NCDE, National Center for Developmental Education
- Carnegie Foundation
- Dana Center, University of Texas-Austin
- Paul Nolting, developmental math expert and learning specialist
Daryl Peterson is a retired Valencia College director and a community college consultant for Bridge the Divide, a division of EPIC. For more information on guided pathways and alignment, contact Kirsten Aspengren at firstname.lastname@example.org