Making Math Useful to Students
Students in the Dana Center Math Pathways (DCMP) classes worked collaboratively to solve multistep word problems, using problems that were contextualized using real-life situations. Students were also observed sharing strategies and demonstrating their understanding of math concepts orally or in writing. In contrast, observations of colleges’ standard developmental and college algebra classes revealed that instruction was typically centered on lecture and individual student work focused around solving math equations.
In a survey of students in four Texas community colleges in both DCMP and traditional courses, 73% of DCMP students reported working regularly with others on problems compared to only 17.6% in the colleges’ standard developmental and college algebra courses. Similarly, 70% of students in DCMP courses said they were regularly taught using real-life problems in comparison to 38% of students in standard courses. Finally, 54% of students in DCMP courses said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “you use the math you learned in everyday life” while only 38% of students in standard math classes reported the same. This Points of Interest shows that a greater percentage of students participating in DCMP courses agreed they would use the math they learned in their everyday lives.