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Topic: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Replies: 31   Last Post: Apr 12, 2012 11:45 AM

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Clyde Greeno @ MALEI

Posts: 220
Registered: 9/13/10
Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Posted: Apr 5, 2012 11:33 PM
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Kathleen:

Thanks for your elucidation. I am sure that it is helpful to many readers of
this website ... and will increase the attractiveness of you webinar. I hope
that you find some of my comments helpful for your work and for your
webinar.

Unfortunately, the title of "Mathematical Literacy ... for College Students"
suggests something other than what your course description suggests. (A
commonplace outcome from committee work.) Yours seems to be more like
"collegiate basic literacy in mathematics." But I'll not further pursue
that linguistic discrepancy.

Rather, my other comments are inserted, #, below

- --------------------------------------------------
From: "Kathleen Almy" <kathleenalmy@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 05, 2012 5:29 PM
To: <mathedcc@mathforum.org>
Subject: Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open

> Thank you Clyde for posting about the webinar I'll be giving on MLCS soon.
>
> I wanted to address a few points, which may or may not help, but I'll try.
>
> I don't profess to have the answers to all that ails developmental math.
> And I haven't seen anyone working on the pathways or New Life who does
> either. What we're all focused on is work that will improve the situation
> for this student in new ways. My concerns come straight out of my
> classroom and dev math program.


# The room for improvement is a huge, multi-dimensional space. Any genuine
improvement along any one dimension -- or combination of dimensions -- is a
worthy cause. You and other MLCSrs will ever be subject to "somebody ought
to" observance by "outsiders", like me, who might sometimes focus on what
you are not doing (and perhaps not even trying to do, yet). So, it behooves
all MLCSrs (and all other re-formers) to make it very clear just what you
are trying to do ... and what you are NOT (yet) trying to do ... and what
you are trying to NOT do. Your e-mail is a step in that direction; thanks.
I trust that your webinar will be a further step.

> While my school's redesign is very effective in that our pass rates and
> outcomes in college level courses are great, the problem is not solved.


# Well said! If we are going to teach "problem solving", we'd best be
practicing it. It will greatly help your webinar presentation if you clearly
identify *the problem* for which MLCS is a solution. It will further help
if disclose some kinds of problems that MLCS is not intended to solve ...
and perhaps a phase-by-phase evolution of MLCS, so as to solve several
problems in succession.

# I take your remark to mean that your "pass rates" for your MLCS course are
higher than normal ... which might indicate that the number of students who
complete the course, and who meet the expectations, is high. If so, then
your course would appear to be much *healthier* (a criterion that you can
run with). Are you also saying that graduates from your MLCS course are
"more successful" in college-level mathematics courses? If so, all your
audience will be interested in your meaning and evidence of that.

>Students are focused on skills, see each problem separately, and do not
>make connections. It's not math. It's just algebra and even that's a
>stretch. It's a list of skills to be checked off.
>
> I think most of us would agree there is more to mathematics than a
> checklist.
>
> So yes, our program is effective in that students pass it, but is that the
> only goal? Retention is still not great. Students test and forget most
> of what they just did. Our students are no different than anyone else's.
>


# They enter college with a history of "parrot-training." Unless that cycle
is broken, [phase 2?] they will approach their college-level courses in
exactly the same way ... soon to forget, and rarely able to use, what they
"learned" in the form of parrot-training. So much the better that your
students "... are no different than anyone else's." For that gives you the
opportunity for your MLCS course to cause them to change ... in ways other "
than anyone else's. "

>I want understanding and retention for all students, but especially this
>population.


# Perhaps they need it more than most other populations. So arises the
[phase 3?] challenge of how to produce genuine mathematical understanding.
(When strong conceptual understanding occurs, retention is almost automatic;
weak retention is very reliable symptom that conceptual understanding is
weak. The dilemma is that traditional curricular instruction does not
produce under-standing.)

> So the premise behind New Life/pathways was to say, let's not just be high
> school 2.0. Let's look forward to what this student needs to be
> successful in the next course they will take. Choose a set of topics that
> supports that goal, which will mean some familiar topics are not covered.
> That's ok.


# An admirable premise: let's make the mathematics programs more pertinent
to the degree/certificate programs. [Phase 1] But: "... what this student
needs to be successful in the next course ... "? Unfortunately, that arena
routinely is attended too superficially to be of much help in improving the
healthiness of the curriculum. Crucial question #1: what kind of intended
"success" is being used for assessing "...student needs ..."? Crucial
question #2: what kinds of motivations, attitudes, perspectives, study
skills, and mathematical intelligence does one need for achieving that
particular kind of "success"? #3 What "next course"? Please respond to those
in your webinar.

>But when we decided on the content set, we discussed instruction too, that
>it had to change as well.


# Phase 1: change program; Phase 2: pilot/hone content; Phase 3: instruction
????

# But change instruction in what way, and to what new modes, and how to
change? Conceptual understanding cannot be achieved unless the course
content is made fully commonsensible to the students, themselves. If the
teaching does not focus on conceptual understanding, and provide for it,
honor it, test for it, and grade accordingly, the parroting cycle of
"checklist" learning cannot be broken. And how well "checklist" learning
prepares students for "success" in "the next course" is dubious.

# Whatever the changes in instructional modes, the criterion for healthy
mathematics instruction is that the course content fully be mathematically
common sensible to the students. That criterion still allows for much
flexibility in instructional modes. The selection of content depends only
partly on whatever seems preparatory for "the next course." Under-standing
that content requires inclusion also of the enabling/access content needed
for making the *target* content mathematically commonsensible.

>Research factored heavily into the changes made in the approach, the
>instructional design, and the topics.


# As a researcher in the field of scientific mathematics instructology, I
would be very interested in learning about the "research" to which you,
Jack, and others have alluded ... and to how it might bear on " ... the
approach, the instructional design, and the topics." Unfortunately, much of
what now is being touted under the banner of "research findings" is little
more than nebulous conjectures that arise from ill-conducted explorations.
Unless you are able to identify what research is used, and how, in the
re-design, you will do well to avoid any references to it.

<If you look at the topic list, you may think the choices are random.
They're not. But it's hard to make that apparent in master course syllabus
on paper.

# Actually, its not so difficult to do [node-link graph sections of
cognitive maps]. Unfortunately, it takes some work and some specialized
mathematical knowledge. Nonetheless, you will learn much from trying to do
it.

> I'm a big believer in show, don't tell.
# I am sure that your webinar will be very much "telling."

> Seeing the course in action puts the changes in clearer focus.

# "You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your
grandmother." -- Albert Einstein...... Empirical instances always provide
more realistic meanings, but can never substitute for linguistic
descriptions. Just as with the teaching of mathematics, the better you get
at "telling" about your project, the better you will understand it. If you
cannot tell it well, don't expect others to understand it.

> Yes, proportional reasoning is included. But that's just one of four key
> areas. Additionally, we address algebraic reasoning, numeracy, and
> functions. All units have components from these 4 areas. The goals are
> depth and connections.


# Both of those buzzwords are so badly misused that your meanings deserve
clarification.

> What excites me most is that I see this approach working. I was just
> talking about this to my colleague who's also piloting the course. She is
> seeing the same thing. When topics are developed in a specific
> progression, connected, taught in context, and seen repeatedly in new
> ways, students start to really process what they mean. I want a student
> to see a linear rate of change with numbers, with a graph, with an
> equation, with a context, and interpret it regardless of how it's
> presented. And not just y=mx+b, but in the theoretical and applied cases.
> I want them to judge a situation and determine if algebra is a good
> approach to use when solving. And if so, be able to write an equation and
> solve it. Everything is set in words, but nothing has the "word problem"
> look of a traditional book. I want students to be able to reason
> logically through a situation and understand the "whys" behind the "hows."
> These are just a few examples. It takes more than a few examples to !
> truly understand the course and approach.
>
> Again, have we cracked the code? No, I won't claim that. But
> collectively, change is occurring in this country and good things are
> coming from that. This is a time of trying, testing, refining, and
> improvement. I'm committed to working on this course until it's
> successful. So are many others. That means to me that students really
> learn something about mathematics AND they can be successful in a college
> level class. But one of the key things I learned through redesign is that
> redesign never really ends. There's always room for growth and
> improvement. I want to make this course work and then branch out to what
> comes before and after this course to improve the experience for students
> over the long haul. I do believe that this approach can be successful,
> and not just in one course. We'll talk much more about all of these
> issues and more in the webinar.
>
> I ask that if you are truly interested in these initiatives, you give them
> time and you approach them with an open mind. We need to be hopeful.


# Interested ... to the degree that I can perceive that the innovations will
be healthier for the students. Re-forming curricular programs ... and
pruning/shuffling contents ... hopefully will improve the healthiness of the
curricula. But unless the instructional orientations, modes, media and
proceedings become much healthier, we'll continue to have millions of
math-fearing, math-illiterate, college graduates.

> We also need to be open to diversity in initiatives and approaches.
> There isn't one right way to improving the state of math education. I
> expect that in the next few years we will see many efforts that are
> successful and yet different. Change can occur. This student can
> succeed. Developmental math is not a lost cause.
>
> Kathleen Almy
> http://almydoesmath.blogspot.com


# Nice to chat with you. Best of luck in your ventures. The better you can
hone your ideas and tell them, the more the rest of us can help.

Cordially,

Clyde


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Date Subject Author
4/5/12
Read MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Clyde Greeno
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Guy Brandenburg
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Alain Schremmer
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Kathleen Almy
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Kathleen Almy
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Alain Schremmer
4/6/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Guy Brandenburg
4/7/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/9/12
Read RE: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Blustein, Bonnie
4/10/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/10/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/10/12
Read RE: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Blustein, Bonnie
4/10/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/11/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Alain Schremmer
4/11/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Guy Brandenburg
4/12/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Alain Schremmer
4/12/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Phil Mahler
4/12/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Alain Schremmer
4/10/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Wayne Mackey
4/10/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Guy Brandenburg
4/8/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Wayne Mackey
4/9/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Clyde Greeno
4/9/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/9/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Clyde Greeno
4/9/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Edward (Ed) D. Laughbaum
4/5/12
Read Re: MLCS Webinar on April 24: Registration Open
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI

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