May 9, 2014
Warren Gordon, Chair, CUNY Math Discipline Council
Julia Wrigley, Interim Executive Vice Chancellor, CUNY
Redefine and Reform: Remedial Mathematics Education at CUNY
Moderator: Warren Gordon, Chair, CUNY Math Discipline Council
Jonathan Cornick, Karan Puri, Queensborough Community College
Michael George, Eugene Milman, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Alexandra W. Logue, Mari Watanabe-Rose, CUNY Central
Quantway at Borough of Manhattan Community College is a quantitative literacy course that replaces elementary algebra. Its goal is to prepare students to interpret the quantitative information they will encounter in their studies, careers and daily lives. According to the data from spring 2012 to summer 2013, 720 Quantway students demonstrated a 78 percent course completion rate and a 60 percent pass rate.
At Queensborough Community College, beginning spring 2013, all remedial math students are placed into elementary algebra, in which arithmetic components are contextualized. In spring 2013, 27 percent of 252 “arithmetic students” in the single-semester arithmetic/elementary algebra sequence passed the course that semester, while 19 percent of 285 students placed into arithmetic in spring 2012 passed elementary algebra within a year.
At Borough of Manhattan Community College, Hostos Community College and LaGuardia Community College in fall 2013, 722 students who had originally been designated to take elementary algebra were randomly assigned to traditional elementary algebra; traditional elementary algebra with peer-led weekly workshops; or college-level introductory statistics with peer-led weekly workshops. The pass rate for each group was 38 percent, 45 percent and 56 percent, respectively.
The implications of these findings for the future of CUNY’s and the nation’s remedial math education will be discussed.
Moderator: John Verzani, College of Staten Island
Since the 80s – if not prior – technology has changed the classroom experience for students of both calculus and statistics. Yet, how best to integrate the use of technology into the lecture has no ready answer. In this series of presentations, we will hear about varying approaches. We start with a discussion on the decision at York to use computer algebra systems (as an alternative to calculators, spreadsheets, dynamic scripting languages, etc.) in the mathematics curriculum. This will be followed by a discussion on the use of Mathematica in calculus courses at Hostos College – a choice made much easier by the site licensing arrangement for CUNY members. Then we will hear from Brooklyn College faculty on an alternative method to integrate technology with the textbook, as opposed to the separation of lecture and lab. Finally, there will be a presentation on
the statistics classroom with carefully designed labs to be completed using the ubiquitous spreadsheet. At the end, we will have ample time to carry the discussion forward.
Ki Song, Brooklyn College
MathLynx is an all-in-one mathematics pedagogy package developed by CUNY faculty and supported by CUNY students. It is first and foremost an interlinked library of interactive e-texts well beyond the capacity of static e-texts plus instructor board skills. It includes walk-through tutorials, randomly generated practice sessions (allowing for natural mathematical input) and algorithmically-graded problems suitable for homework or quizzes. For an instructor, it includes the ability to design and structure assignments with results stored in a database. They are then downloadable in spreadsheet form for manipulation and upload to Blackboard, Moodle or Sakai.
We will discuss the use of MathLynx in several courses at Brooklyn College. The package, used in presentation-capable classrooms, was found to be at least as effective as a traditional blackboard + static text + online homework system, while requiring little instructor familiarization time. This alone makes it worth consideration, but – coupled with offering students a substantial savings – we see MathLynx as creating an entirely reasonable replacement to the 1950s-style traditional classroom.
Virginia L. Thompson, York College
Since their development in the late 1960s and their later introduction into the teaching curriculum in the 1980s, computer algebra systems (CASs) have been recognized as being powerful and valuable tools for teaching and learning mathematics (Peirce & Stacey, 2004). A CAS is a software package that can be used to perform algebra manipulations, such as solving equations, graphing functions, finding limits, derivatives and more. Popular CASs include Maple, Mathematica, MathLab and MathCad. Some handheld calculations, such as the Texas Instruments 89 or TI-Inspire editions, also have CAS abilities. Seminal research studies have found that the effective use of CASs in the classroom can reduce student errors, generate both exact and approximate results and allow for the introduction of more complicated mathematical questions than possible with only pencil and paper (Peirce & Stacey, 2004). However, there are challenges. First, the teacher must know how to efficiently integrate the technology into the learning process. Second, not all students adapt well to technology-based learning. This talk will investigate effective strategies on teaching with CASs, student and faculty experience using CAS in the undergraduate mathematics classroom and propose some new ways this powerful tool can be integrated in mathematics courses.
Ruslan Flek, Tanvir Prince, Hostos Community College
Randy Bass pointed out one of the keys of bringing technology into the classroom: Technology can play a key role here as new digital, learning and analytic tools now make it possible to replicate some features of the high-impact activity inside classrooms, whether through the design of inquiry-based learning or through the ability to access and data, mount simulations, leverage “the crowd” for collaboration and social learning or redesign when and how students can engage course content (Bass, 2012).
Thus, bringing technology into the classroom not only enhances the teaching and learning experience, but also facilitates high-impact practices. In our situation, we need to think about right technology for our honors calculus course. Many instructors use different types of software in mathematics, including Maple, Mathematica, Mymatlab and MathXL. We choose to use Mathematica software in our curriculum. It turns out that, for all CUNY students, this particular software is free for download. We want to take advantage of this opportunity. We created several labs (usually one lab per week) in which this software will be used to explore and discover topics in calculus. The idea is to have a similarity with a physics or chemistry course where there is a lab component. Typically, a theory is taught in a lecture and then the corresponding application is stressed in a lab day.
Marianna Bonanome, Huseyin Yuce, New York City College of Technology
The usefulness of utilizing technology for teaching statistics and probability has been widely recognized by the educational community. We present a lesson design, which limits lecture time and emphasizes a problem-based approach to learning. With this approach, students are active participants following along with their instructor while working in a spreadsheet environment to perform statistical analysis. Students develop the ability to work with data while building their understanding of the algebraic relationships between elements embedded in the spreadsheet formulae. Our carefully designed in-class activities, examples and discussions elevate student engagement while allowing for the exploration of statistical and probabilistic concepts.
Deborah J. Hughes Hallett, Professor of Mathematics, University of Arizona / Adjunct Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
We live in a globalized world. The internet bring that world right into our classrooms and mathematics courses can benefit enormously from harnessing that power.
View Speaker Presentation here.
Moderator: G. Michael Guy, Queensborough Community College
William J. Baker, Olen Dias, Hostos Community College
The Teaching Research Model is designed for teachers aware of educational theories to help them implement learning theories in their classroom practice. This model is a cycle of our phases: first, design of instructional curricula and methodology of instruction based upon educational theories and craft practice and; second, implementation along with recording of results of student performance, quality of in-class dialogue and onsite evaluation by the teaching researcher.
As teachers, our role is be involved to support, motivate, encourage and challenge our students to become involved and apply themselves. As researchers, our role is to step back and become objective to observe student thought and learning; collection and analysis of data are independent of our concern for student welfare. The duality of these roles and the demands they place on the teachers’ research can be supported by a teaching research community comprised of a collection of like-minded instructors who discuss educational theories, as well as the success and failures of one's attempt to implement these theories.
This will be a short discussion on the results of a teaching research community composed of four instructors from Hostos and Bronx Community Colleges focused on encouraging problem-solving with students transitioning from pre-algebra to algebra in remedial mathematics. The theoretical foundation was based upon the “The Act of Discovery” by Arthur Koestler, in particular the triad or triptych of humor, art and discovery that was used by Professor Vrunda Prabha of BCC to promote guided discovery learning in problem solving and expanded upon by the presenters during the C^3RIG CUNY grant (2010-2011) between HCC and BCC. The foundation of humor in this model contains aspects of student affect that bring the student into the moment – to settle down and put away the cell phone – while the foundation of art contains those elements of student affect in which they engage and express themselves in the learning process. These two supports provide an environment in which students take ownership of their learning, allowing the discovery to transform their classroom experience from habit to originality.
Corrin Clarkson, Columbia University
Andrew Douglas, Ezra Halleck, New York City College of Technology
Now in its second year, the New York City Teaching Seminar (https://sites.google.com/site/nycteachingseminar/) is a monthly gathering of area college math instructors whose purpose is to discuss one or more articles related to an aspect of undergraduate math education. The presentation will begin with a brief overview of the origins, rationale and accomplishments of the seminar. A demonstration discussion of two articles will follow. The first is an article written 20 years ago by Herbert Simon, et al. (http://memory.psy.cmu.edu/publications/Applic.MisApp.pdf). The second article is written by John Mighton, the founder of Jump Math, who was greatly influenced by the Simon, et al. article (http://www.ams.org/notices/201402/rnoti-p144.pdf). The discussion of this second article will focus on how aspects of the JUMP Math approach could be incorporated into college courses, from developmental to junior/senior level.
Nadia Benakli, Estela Rojas, Arnavaz P. Taraporevala, New York City College of Technology
How does one develop a project to enhance learning? What kind of project assesses quantitative reasoning skills? The presenters will discuss different projects that they use from remedial courses through senior level courses to enhance and assess learning in mathematics.
Reem Jaafar, LaGuardia Community College
For students with little experience in mathematical thinking and conceptualization, writing-to-learn activities (WTL) can be particularly effective in promoting discovery and understanding. For community college students embarking on a first calculus course in particular, writing activities can help facilitate the transition from an “apply the formula” approach to problem-solving to a “discover the formula” initiation to mathematical knowledge-building.
Having identified several common challenges faced by community college students in a beginning calculus course – including difficulties using mathematical notation, applying theorems and understanding the language of proofs – several WTL assignments are discussed, ranging from brief stakes assignments to more formal, revised assignments that address these difficulties.
The study was done over the course of two semesters. Sample students’ work is presented to highlight the learning objectives different writing tasks help attain, the evolution in students’ mathematical understanding during the semester and the benefits of following some traditional textbook problems with low-stakes writing assignments. An analysis of students’ work shows that WTL activities not only help students cement mathematical knowledge, deepen understanding and develop appreciation for the rigor and concision of mathematical language, but also enable them to develop questioning and learning habits essential to their success in any field.
Moderator: John Velling, Brooklyn College
Joan Mosely, CUNY School of Professional Studies
This presentation demonstrates the use of student-created screencasts in a fully online mathematics course: self-assessment, surface connections and course learning outcomes. By creating and sharing video responses to several prompts (including "How is each of the identified learning outcomes evidenced in the learning unit?" and "How do these outcomes enhance your skills in your daily workplace?"), students in Mathematics in Contemporary Society, a general education course at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, engage in a creative, metacognitive process that demonstrates their understanding of connections – or gaps – between the course learning outcomes and their daily work environments. This project grew out of the instructor’s desire to make reflection a visible part of the course and to foster interaction and social pedagogy in the sometimes isolating online environment. The presentation will also discuss student self-assessment within the larger context of course-level assessment.
Andi Toce, Svetoslav Zahariev, LaGuardia Community College
Academic Peer Instruction, a peer tutoring program based on Supplemental Instruction, has been in place at LaGuardia Community College for over 20 years. In fall 2013, we began providing for first-time supplemental tutoring services in several hybrid sections of courses such as college algebra and pre-calculus. In our approach, the tutors conduct both online and face-to-face tutoring sessions for the students enrolled in these hybrid sections on a weekly basis. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of online communication platforms such as Wiggio and Piazza utilized by us and compare them to traditional learning management systems such as Blackboard. We will also present the first results of our assessment of the effectiveness of hybrid tutoring, including students’ attendance, retention, course performance and pass rates. Time permitting, some of our tutors will share their insight and personal impressions regarding hybrid instruction.
Wayne D. Russell, Medgar Evers College
The objective of this research is to determine the effectiveness of using a Social-Media Supplemental Instructional Platform (SSIP) to promote Dynamic Self-Regulated Learning (SRL-d) in developmental mathematics college students. This study asserts that an SSIP is more effective in creating the interactions necessary to facilitate SRL-d which, by extension, would increase students’ academic performance rate, their mathematical conception and retention rate. This research contends that virtual interactions can adequately stimulate students’ enthusiasm, passion, insight, interest and curiosity – all of which are primary tenets of SRL-d. The research argues that a virtual platform can serve as an immediate space to aid in the contextualization of mathematical concepts, which, invariably, leads to higher order mathematical elaborations.
Participants were required to complete a survey and a questionnaire, and the entire population was tested. Our findings indicated that there was a significant difference between students who used an SSIP to enhance SRL-d versus students in the general population. Additionally, our survey indicated that there was a significant improvement in participants’ attitudes toward learning mathematics, and there was a 20 percent increase in class average, as well as a 25 percent increase in performance when compared with the general population.