Monday, March 30, 2015

Why pathways?

Pathways like Math Literacy (MLCS) continue to be an option that many colleges and universities are adding to their developmental math programs.  If you’re new to pathways or your college is pursuing them, you may wonder, “what’s all the fuss?”  Here are some reasons pathways are a great option for developmental math students.

1.  Pathways create a new, useful experience in developmental math.

Pathways courses aren’t about high school all over again.  Instead students encounter new content and some old content but done in new ways.  Problems are set in contexts that students will encounter in their lives, jobs, and classes.  The methods are built for adult learners and address their unique needs and issues.

     2.  Pathways are relevant.

I don’t have students asking me “when will I ever use this?”  They know the answer to the question because they see it answered with every section we cover.  Math Literacy doesn’t have content for the sake of history, but instead content that is necessary for problems we will solve.

       3.  Pathways build college readiness.

Pathways courses ask a lot of developmental students.  These students have to read, infer, interpret, apply, and understand the content they learn.  They have to communicate it to other students verbally and in print.  They are expected to write regularly, including explanations.  It’s not enough to be able to do a skill.  They have to understand that skill and know how to use it in new situations they haven’t seen before.

     4.  Pathways work.

We have a lot of data showing that the traditional developmental algebra courses do not work.  They may be comfortable to many faculty, but they don’t work for students.  The pass rates in them and after them aren’t great.  When students move from intermediate algebra to statistics, they are usually surprised and instead feel unprepared.  A course about reasoning and nonstop word problems that aren’t “types” isn’t what they’ve have been doing for years. 

Pathways course, on the other hand, do have data to support that they work.  Students by and large pass them.  And once they pass and enroll in a college-level course, they usually pass it too.  Not only are they passing, but they’re prepared for college-level coursework and expectations. 

To learn more about pathways course like Math Literacy, please check the top of the page for several links to helpful information.  You can also check out this webinar.