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Great comments and by the way my Ph.D. is in Psychology, not mathematics.
In fact my mathematics skills are atrocious and I graduated from a
supposedly great suburban public high school where less than 1% of the
students are below the federal poverty guidelines.  I even passed Calculus
in 12th grade.  Once I entered the University of Pittsburgh as a computer
science major, mind you, I realized that passing differential equations was
going to be nearly impossible due to my dearth of mathematics skills.  The
problem is then and even more now, students are not being given enough time
on task as curricula has shifted for whatever reason to deemphasize
drilling, repetition and problem solving abilities.

Meanwhile in India and China students are spending countless hours
practicing their math skills either as individuals or in small groups.

Mathematics is a skill, and unfortunately in the United States, it is one
that public schools have totally deemphasized and that has been fueled by
this ridiculous myth wherein we as a society do not need to ensure that our
youth master this skill as they can obtain employment without this skill.

...and we wonder why the number H1 visas are escalating through the roof
these days.    

An interesting discussion for sure.

Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
231 Armitage Hall
311 N. Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-2722
(856) 225-6443 fax
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Linda Stedje-Larsen
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 10:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

I am glad to see such passion for this issue.  I agree with Robert and I
think it is an expectation that students in college have had algebra.  I am
one of those for whom not much was expected in high school and then life
took twists and turns.   I had a hard time with algebra in college, but the
GRE, which I never expected to take, would have been even harder.  However,
Robert, I married a man with a Rutgers degree in engineering and he tutored
me! Standards for what a college degree means need to be maintained. It is a
disservice to do otherwise. 

Linda Stedje-Larsen, Ed.S.
Director, Support Services
Wingate University
CB 3068 
Wingate, NC 28174
FAX - 704-233-8268
Phone - 704-233-8269

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Ciervo
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 10:03 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

Well for one, not even one university forces any student to pay for any
classes.  Students have the free will to choose to attend any university
that will accept them and then choose any major within that university for
which the university will allow them to enroll.  Once they do so they have
the free will to change their major or transfer to another institution if
again there is class for which they would not like to enroll. 

We can all harken back to past times and I could wax nostalgic about the era
in which even urban inner city students were taking Algebra 2 in 9th grade,
Geometry in 10th grade, Trigonometry in 11th grade and Calculus in 12th
grade.  My father graduated from one of those urban public schools in the
early 1960s and today in that same school students who are proficient enough
to enroll in Calculus by 12th grade have to attend a local university as
there are not even more than a handful of students who ever reach that
proficiency.  Sadly in the past 45 years government run schools have failed
many millions of students and their families.     

That is why I am saddened to hear of professionals pushing for the lowering
of standards instead of supporting higher expectations for our students.
Far too many students from every strata of society are entering our
universities not able to add fractions, having totally forgotten about
concepts as basic as lowest common denominator.  Students who enroll in
college should really have already mastered algebra, regardless of major or
possible career path.  One of higher education's greatest gifts to our
society, in my opinion, has been its flexibility in even offering algebra
courses, as it has realized as a collective that it must serve as a
remediation step for an ever growing number of students.

I wholeheartedly support our institution's requirement that students master
basic algebra either through placement test or by passing our two remedial
courses (Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra).  In essence Rutgers,
a New Jersey supported institution, is stepping in and educating students
(mainly from New Jersey) who have been failed by their local government run
schools.
    
Sincerely,
   
Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
231 Armitage Hall
311 N. Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-2722
(856) 225-6443 fax
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Williams, Kathy
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 9:32 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

Ah, now we have a conversation going! There are some careers that do not
call for algebraic skills, so why force students in particular majors to
learn them? Personally, I think it is a disservice to force students to
take and pay for a class that many of them fail and have to take
repeatedly, which often leads to a host of problems. 

Luckily, I attended college in the day when colleges and universities
weren't forcing students to take an algebra course, so I had only to
pass a basic math skills course with just a very little algebra thrown
in for . . . the sake of knowledge, I suppose.

Dr. Ciervo, why do you consider this a disservice to higher education? 

In addition, I would have to say that there are many factors that are
turning our country into a service economy and I would not lay the blame
for that at the feet of higher ed. I guess that is another convo,
though.  

Kathy A. Williams, M.A. 
Academic Skills Coordinator
Transition & University Services
Eastern Kentucky University
SSB 323, CPO 64
521 Lancaster Avenue
Richmond, KY 40475-3164
Phone: (859) 622-8860
Fax: (859) 622-5887
 
-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Ciervo
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 8:43 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

Any institution of higher learning that "wisely" recognizes that alegbra
is
not a necessary requirement for its students to master, is in my opinion
doing a tremendous disservice to higher education and only adds fuel to
the
engine that is turning our country into a service economy and
outsourcing
employment opportunities that require any thought and logic overseas.

Increasing retention by "dumbing down" the curriculum is not only
ridiculous, but grossly negligent in my opinion and any "consultant" who
makes this recommendation should be ignored.

Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
231 Armitage Hall
311 N. Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-2722
(856) 225-6443 fax
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Teresa Farnum
Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 2:34 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

Greetings,
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
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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