What Community College Developmental Mathematics Students Understand about Mathematics

Carnegie Senior Partner Jim Stigler and colleagues Karen B. Givvin and Belinda J. Thompson from the University of California, Los Angeles were commissioned by Carnegie to investigate what community college developmental mathematics students understand about mathematics and how we might help turn around the alarming statistics that show that an enormous number of those students drop out of college because they aren’t successful in math courses.

“An assumption we make in this report is that substantive improvements in mathematics learning will not occur unless we can succeed in transforming the way mathematics is taught,” the authors write. “In particular, we are interested in exploring the hypothesis that these students who have failed to learn mathematics in a deep and lasting way up to this point might be able to do so if we can convince them, first, that mathematics makes sense, and then provide them with the tools and opportunities to think and reason.”

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