We have banned calculator use in our Beginning Math class. It is the 
most basic class and we feel that the students need to learn these 
basic skills before they move on. We allow calculators in all the 
other math classes.
I know the reactions I get from students in the Beginning Math class 
because they can't use calculators. I can only imagine the response 
from College Algebra students.

At 12:18 PM 6/27/2006, you wrote:
>Susan, Ted, et al:
>There is a request for feedback imbedded in this lengthy post.
>This whole issue of math success is complicated at best.  It truly 
>is an individual problem -- in the sense that each individual has 
>differing needs/issues.  That's what makes the solution so 
>challenging.  The problem has to be addressed from many angles if it 
>is to be resolved.  Unfortunately, there are weaknesses on both 
>sides of the classroom.  There are students who work their tails off 
>in an effort to succeed, but simply do not.  Sometimes it is because 
>they have an unrealistically difficult instructor, sometimes it is 
>because they don't have effective learning strategies, sometimes it 
>is because their fear and anxiety annihilate their efforts to 
>learn.  On the other hand, there are students who approach their 
>education with a sense of entitlement, not willing (or perhaps not 
>understanding the need) to exert the necessary effort to succeed.
>These are just two scenarios in the wide range of individual needs, 
>which is what makes finding a solution so difficult.  The solution 
>needs to be addressed by a menu of strategies.  Structured Learning 
>Assistance (SLA) is a strong menu item.  Efforts to build math 
>appreciation are important, too. (Math Awareness Week, using The 
>Futures Channel: Digital Video Library - or other real applications 
>- in classrooms, math camps, etc).  Good advising is essential. (Are 
>students choosing appropriate quantitative literacy courses for 
>their majors?  Not everyone is on a calculus track.) Policies that 
>prevent a student from digging a deeper hole are needed. (How many 
>times do we let a student fail before we intervene?)
>We have had a huge problem on our campus regarding math.  A few loud 
>malcontents have stirred up an ugly PR problem.  The math 
>departments have been under attack.  An entreprenurial organization 
>puts flyers in every edition of the student paper advertising: "Skip 
>all lower level pre-requisite courses.  Finish College Algebra in 
>just six weeks."  (They've been so successful at our school they've 
>expanded to two other schools in the state.)  The student paper has 
>perpetuated the negative attitudes with front page stories about 
>"the math problem."
>What is most frustrating is the perception that math is hard only at 
>UVSC.  Students say we are being unreasonable in our requirements. I 
>would love to hear from others about the depth of the issues they 
>are facing on their campuses regarding math success and what is 
>being done to resolve them.
>Another issue we face, that I'd like to hear from others on, is that 
>of calculator use.  Our math department was so appalled by the lack 
>of basic numeracy skills in the college algebra students that they 
>banned the use of any calculators on tests (other than for things 
>like logrithms, etc).  This has caused quite a stir, of course.  I'm 
>curious if other schools have similar policies or have seen a 
>similar decline in basic math skills of students.
>We have created a math task force to thoroughly analyze "the math 
>problem" and seek multiple solutions to it.  There is hope that next 
>year will show marked improvement in this PR nightmare.
>Kathryn Van Wagoner
>Director, Math Advantage Programs
>Utah Valley State College

Melissa Chandler
Developmental Specialist
Allen County Community College
1801 North Cottonwood
Iola, KS 66749
(620) 365-5116 ext. 247
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