Greetings from the moderator of this category! Here’s a quick post to get us started on this topic:
Outside of TPSE Math, lower-division pathways are often called simply “mathematics pathways.” They refer to a course or sequence of courses that meet the program requirements for a degree or credential. Almost every undergraduate program requires some mathematics (hence the common term “gateway”). For most students, this still means College Algebra or Calculus, and whatever developmental courses are needed to get them there.
Although many colleges and universities have improved the math pathways they offer, most are still stuck with one or more of these problems:
- Too many students fail gateway math (often 2-3 times);
- developmental sequences are too long, and many students drop out before getting to college-level math;
- required math is often not relevant to a student’s chosen major (e.g., 90% of students are in majors that don’t require Calculus, yet College Algebra is basically pre-Calculus!);
- required math often doesn’t transfer to other institutions - or if the credits transfer, the course often isn’t allowed to apply to the student’s major program (and 40% of students transfer at least once).
Many institutions and a few systems and states have done a lot to redesign math pathways and align them with students’ majors. The most common type of redesign includes quantitative reasoning for humanities and fine arts majors, statistics for social science majors, and College Algebra and Calculus for STEM majors. The most successful redesigns also:
- include accelerated developmental sequences, so students can get through college math within a year;
- deal with issues of transfer, placement, advising, pedagogy, etc.
- align with or feed complementary efforts on student success
Many are finding that students pass college-level math at twice the rate in half the time and that students at 2-year institutions transfer or get a degree at far higher rates.
TPSE Math and other organizations are collaborating on a major initiative to help institutions, systems, and states to redesign mathematics pathways in ways that will lead to increased student success. This collaboration is called Advancing Mathematics Pathways for Student Success (AMPSS).
Next steps for this thread:
Did I capture the main points related to lower-division pathways? I want this thread to be a helpful introduction to the topic.
Next steps for this category (Lower-Division Pathways):
Many of the issues and points I raise in this introduction should be their own topics! I invite you to create a new topic on any one of them, or on new or cross-cutting topics. I will get the process started by starting a thread (“Topic”) on the AMPSS partnership, and possibly some other topics.
I look forward to the discussion!
—David May