Sunday, July 8, 2012

Implementing MLCS: Integrating MLCS into Your Sequence

There are some items to attend to when incorporating a new course like MLCS into your developmental math sequence.  The approach we use when designing or redesigning any developmental course is a comprehensive one.  Looking at the course from every angle, not just the topics and book, is necessary for the course to succeed.

1. Determine entry requirements.

We use the placement cut score for beginning algebra as our entry to the course or that the student has passed prealgebra. Whatever you choose, determine if placement will be a part of it and if so, what the placement procedure will be.

2. Implement placement procedures.

Communicate and work with whoever at your college facilitates placement to implement the procedures you've chosen.

3. Create and implement an advising plan.

This is critical to the success of the course. The advisers at your school need to know about and understand the goal and audience for this course so that they can best advise students about taking it. It will be helpful to draw up a new flowchart with the course and a short summary sheet of important information about it. Copy and distribute this sheet to anyone who will be advising developmental math students. 
Additionally, students in the class will need advising when choosing their next math course.  We create a sheet to summarize key facts and questions and use it for in-class advising a week or so prior to open registration.

4.  Consider recruitment.

You may also want to recruit students specifically for the course through an advertising program. You can create flyers and/or send an email to specific groups of students (non-STEM majors, for example) to get the appropriate student in your sections.

5.  Address intermediate algebra.

Feeding into general education math or statistics is not an issue for MLCS since it was designed with those courses in mind.  Feeding into your intermediate algebra smoothly is another issue.  Some schools want to add in traditional topics like trinomial factoring or absolute value equations into MLCS so that students can move into intermediate algebra.  This would not be my first choice.  Those topics will feel odd in MLCS; students will notice when you're covering something just for the sake of doing so.  All the other topics in the course have a reason for their inclusion and students will come to expect that as the course continues.

Instead, it's easier to add topics to intermediate algebra, like trinomial factoring.  Our school's intermediate algebra course already includes factoring because students don't recall it, even if they just completed that chapter in beginning algebra a month before.  So including factoring there helps everyone, but especially students coming from MLCS.

Next in the series:  Groups

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