Hi Teresa et al.-

Not to hammer a dead issue, but I'd like to share some information about 
what we do at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.  First, I am a full 
time Learning Associate working in the Math and Science Learning 
Center.  Here at CGCC we offer a sequence under the title "College 
Mathematics".  In this course students will "gain working knowledge of 
college-level mathematics and its applications to real-life problems.  
Emphasis is on understanding mathematical concepts and their 
applications.  Topics include set theory, probability, statistics, 
finance and geometry."  A prerequisite of a passing grade in the 
Intermediate Algebra class or satisfactory score on the ASSET test.  
This course is appropriate for the student whose major does not require 
college algebra or precalculus.  Because of the prerequisites, students 
who take this course still have to master algebraic and critical 
thinking skills prior to enrolling in this class.  This is the link to 
the course description that outlines the course in more detail:

Having taught both College Mathematics and College Algebra as a graduate 
student, I find that this type of class gives students with a 
non-mathematical mindset the opportunity to see concrete examples of how 
math relates to their life.  For example, the section on finance is of 
critical importance; teaching students how to think through the process 
of buying a house or saving for retirement equips students with the 
knowledge they'll most likely utilize immediately.  In a world where 
these young adults are told not to plan on social security...teaching 
them the way an annuity works, for example, is fundamental in showing 
them how to secure their financial future.  You can not contest that 
this is valuable information.  College mathematics doesn't "dumb down" 
math or lower the standards.  On the contrary, it gives students the 
opportunity to employ their stronger skills and refocus light on a 
subject they formerly felt was unclear.  Learning takes place when a 
student makes a connection between new information and information 
already stored in their long term memory.  College mathematics gives 
students the opportunity to take a mathematical idea and connect it with 
something they feel confident about.

Further, as an instructor of this course you have an immense amount of 
freedom to incorporate current events and critical reading and writing 
skills, that you empower students to independently discover that 
mathematics permeates many of their other areas of interest.  If we want 
students to be equipped for a global market, we have to adapt our 
curricula to match their needs.  If a student isn't going to need the 
formal college algebra-precalculs-calculus track, lets give them the 
math they'll need.  Plus, they get to learn things that those 
traditional science track students don't, like the mathematics behind 
the music scale, for example.  I never learned about that until I taught 
the class.  I almost feel a little cheated that I didn't get to learn 
about it earlier!!

I think a key to the success of this type of course is the support of 
faculty who are all on the same page as far as the content and 
competencies required.  Also, the supporting materials (textbook, 
activities, projects, etc.) still need to maintain a mathematical 
foundation and they must encourage students to think at a higher level.  
There is definitely a risk of becoming too much fluff and not enough 
real math.

Just a few tidbits about our course.  Hope you find it helpful.

Have a good day,

Theresa Killebrew
Learning Associate
Math and Science Tutoring
Chandler-Gilbert Community College
480-732-7377 fax

Teresa Farnum wrote:

>I am trying to accumulate a list of institutions that have wisely recognized
>that algebra is not a necessary requirement for numeracy and solid
>quantitative reasoning skills.  
>If your general education requirement includes an option of "Mathematics for
>Liberal Arts Majors" or some similar title, does NOT have a prerequisite of
>algebra, and serves as the terminal math course for non-science majors, I
>would appreciate hearing from you.
>As a consultant working with colleges and universities to increase student
>learning, success, and satisfaction with an expected goal of increasing
>retention and graduation rates, it is clear to me--a former professor of
>mathematics--that we, in this country, are doing an incredible disservice to
>students who will not need algebra (which is simply a tool for more advanced
>mathematical study).  It is appalling to me the number of lives we impact
>negatively by requiring algebra of liberal arts majors.
>Please share success stories at your institutions.  Thank you!
>Teresa Farnum & Associates
>Your Change Agent to Recruit and Graduate Students
>Denver, Colorado
>Phone: 303-248-3011
>Fax:     303-248-3549
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