Category Archives: Current Issues

Post about issues in mathematics education

Alternative Pathways to College Level Math

Over the past few years, several alternative pathways to college level math have been explored across the country. These pathways differ from the usual pre/beginning/intermediate pathways that traditionally prepare students for college algebra. Instead, they aim to prepare students for a course like college math.

The faculty at Yavapai College are in the process of developing a new course that will help students move from Prealgebra to College Mathematics as quickly as possible. Since College Mathematics enrollments are on the rise, this will help more and more students complete their mathematics requirements quickly.

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Regression Using Google Sheets

sheets_reg_01Not long ago, Microsoft Excel was the go to tool for making scatter plots and modeling data with regression functions. For the last ten years my students have used Excel to model data in projects. For many students wishing to use Excel on their own computers, Excel was an expensive purchase.

Other students wanted to save money and used ancient versions of Excel that were difficult to use. This was particularly aggravating to me since I had to help them find their models in Excel 2003, 2010, and 2013. The process was different in each platform.

This encouraged me to look at other ways of making pretty graphs with models. Google Sheets was particularly attractive because of its cost…free. Last summer Google added a simple way of adding a regression model to a scatter plot in Sheets. Now you can do just about everything you might want to do in College Algebra or Finite Mathematics in Google Sheets. And you get the added benefit of a single, free, platform in the Google ecosystem.

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PhotoMath: The New Killer App for Students?

Logo PhotoMath landscapeOver the past few hours, many news sources like CNN and Engadget have reported on the app PhotoMath. According to their website, this app claims

PhotoMath reads and solves mathematical expressions by using the camera of your mobile device in real time. It makes math easy and simple by educating users how to solve math problems.

Wow! What an enlightened view of how this app might be used.

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First Day Activities

redwood_01I guess all of you are also finishing off your first week or two of classes. Over the years I have spent less and less time going over the course policies on the first day. For me, the first day used to be an anomaly. I talked all of the hour and fifteen minutes and they sat. None of the subsequent classes would be like this. Yet this first day often turns students off and gives them the impression that my class is a one way communication channel. Many students may drop the class purely on the basis of that first day.

Instead of spending the entire class on the syllabus, I do fifteen minutes on how their grade is determined and then move on to an activity. For my college algebra class this semester, this activity had a secret motive. I decided to add to the group activities I do in class and make the projects in the class a collaborative effort. To make these groups effective, I need to get a feel for the students and how they work together. I wanted the activity to give me a feel for their personality…leader or follower.

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AMATYC Has Much To Offer

by Kathryn Kozak, VP of the SW Region of AMATYC


The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) is the main professional development organization for mathematics teachers at two-year colleges.  Part of its mission is to “offer multiple opportunities for the preparation and continuing professional development of a competent and diverse mathematics faculty skilled in a variety of teaching modalities addressing different learning styles.”  To fulfill this, AMATYC offers an annual conference, webinars, traveling workshops, an online community for members to discuss topics, a mathematics journal (MathAMATYC Educator), and a newsletter (AMATYC News).  In addition, AMATYC has several position statements and guidelines that range from mathematics teaching to preparation of mathematics faculty.

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Topics Affecting Mathematics Education Today

by Kathryn Kozak, VP of the Southwest Region of AMATYC

I was hoping to write an informative article about a topic that is currently important in mathematics education, such as common core standards changes, developmental education redesign, or availability of open source books.  However, I have to admit that I haven’t been able to concentrate on any of these topics.  Currently, I am on sabbatical and sitting at my brother and sister-in-law’s farm in New South Wales, Australia, and watching the Grand Final of Australian League Football.  So I am a bit distracted, and these topics are not on my mind right now.  However, all of these topics and more are immensely important today.

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Is Hacker a Hack?

Many of you are probably familiar with the recent op ed piece in the New York Times, Is Algebra Necessary? In this piece Dr. Andrew Hacker, emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, CUNY, argues that all students do not need to take algebra to be productive members of society.

This article has generated a great deal of controversy (probably what he intended in the first place).

The Diane Rehm Show hosted Dr. Hacker and several other panelists on August 29. You can listen to the show by clicking on the Listen link in the upper left of the page.

Where do you fall in this debate?