New initiative aims to help boost student success with math courses that follow a learning path

math-pathwaysA new initiative from The University of Texas at Austin’s Charles A. Dana Center will work to help entering college students choose math pathways that give them a rigorous course of study, while at the same time boosting college success.

Leaders and policymakers in five states will develop state mathematics task forces and work to improve college student success through the new initiative, known as the New Mathways Project.

The three-year project is funded by a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The New Mathways Project already works with 50 community college systems and 28 universities in Texas, as well as seven other states. The new expansion will bring the project to five additional states: Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington.

After the New Mathways Project was implemented in Texas, 23 percent of students enrolled successfully completed a college-credit-bearing math course within one year, compared with the statewide average of 8 percent. Campuses that implemented the program with the highest fidelity to recommendations had 43 percent of students earn college credit in one year.

The Charles A. Dana Center will work with mathematics faculty members, administrators and policymakers in the five new states to replicate these successes and develop each state’s mathematics task force.

The task forces will support faculty leadership, set the vision and create the momentum to promote mathematics “pathways” in institutions statewide. The focus of the New Mathways Project is to provide students with math pathways that give them choices among several different courses or course sequences in which they learn rigorous mathematics relevant to their chosen fields of study. The math pathways approach requires shifting from a focus on individual courses toward a focus on full pathways that provide a coherent learning experience.

Next page: The 4 principles guiding the project

“My life’s work has been to improve my own teaching and the systems that support teachers so that all students can learn the mathematics they need to succeed in school and in life,” said Uri Treisman, New Mathways Project founder and Dana Center executive director. “This expansion of the New Mathways Project should help tens of thousands of students achieve their American dream of a college credential and a better future.”

The New Mathways Project model is guided by four principles:
• Multiple pathways with relevant and challenging mathematics content aligned to specific fields of study
• Acceleration that allows students to complete college-level math courses more quickly than in the traditional developmental math sequence
• Intentional use of strategies to help students develop skills as learners
• Curriculum design and pedagogy based on proven practice

The New Mathways Project’s state-level work is also closely connected to national undergraduate mathematics reform movements. The Dana Center is collaborating with leading professional associations of mathematicians through TPSE Math and Common Vision 2025. These initiatives are focused on redesigning the undergraduate math program, including advocacy for multiple mathematics pathways.

The New Mathways Project is often identified as an innovative model setting the standard for how to improve undergraduate mathematics education.

The Dana Center is a part of a national coalition working to transform developmental education for all. The coalition’s newly released joint statement has been endorsed by 25 organizations and states.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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