[Back to Minneapolis Math Pathways]
A successful math education reform requires the willingness and the ability to meet students where they are. It should be done with curriculum innovation, and not by shifting more responsibility to the students or the student support services. Technology, tutoring and advising, no matter how good or abundant, would have marginal or no effect if the teachers are unwilling to change.
From 2018 to 2021, the math department at Minneapolis College created three pathways for students to complete their gen ed math in a year. They are College Algebra and Statistics with one developmental course MATH 75, and Math for Liberal Arts with no developmental math. This is our story.
When I started as the STEM dean at Minneapolis College in 2018, mathematics was facing multiple challenges. The enrollment had been slipping for years. The math sequences were long, intertwined and as complicated as the Minnesota Vikings' playbook. Hundreds of students each year would take logic to avoid math. It was time to change.
In 2018/19, our top priorities were:
In 2019/20, we launched Math for Liberal Arts, which quickly became a student favorite. We also revised Statistics by adding more advanced content for transferring purposes and more basic material to engage a slightly less prepared class. Then we raised it from 3 to 4 credits.
Our team moved to finalize the College Algebra and Statistics pathways in 2020/21.
Going into the 2021/22 academic year, we will be focusing on:
I mentioned in the beginning that a successful math reform requires curriculum innovation and a willingness to meet students where they are. That's exactly what the math department did, with Scott Storla's curriculum genius, Chhaya Patel and Jane Gringauz's relentlessly work on the Statistics course, Donna Spikes's coordination, and the entire department's teamwork and support of each other.
Those who follow national math movements closely would notice that our pathways have reached two milestones. Minimizing or eliminating developmental math is the goal of Dana Center of Texas, and the seamless curriculum transition from high schools is what Tennessee SAILS Program sets out to do. Few institutions in the nation have accomplished these goals, but our team did it with a small funding and a big heart.
Someone asked me lately about updating the flowchart of our math pathways. "What flowchart?" I joked, "Why would I need a chart for three short straight lines?"
Yes, three short straight lines. That's what math pathways look like, here at the Minneapolis College.
Dr. Ben Weng