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# Category Archives: 2016 Fall

## Dan’s Reading Notes on Krantz

For your consideration; Dan’s reading notes on Krantz’s *How to Teach Mathematics* (PDF):

## Student Expectations; CUNY Remediation Changes; Biology Supplements

Discussing:

- Steven G. Krantz,
*How to Teach Mathematics*, Chapters 4-6

Attending:

- Daniel, Kristin, Tian

Points:

- Students being surprised at learning any new skill in a college math class (after many years of algebra review). Complaints/grievances.
- Students being accustomed to scaling/extra credit to make sure they pass (instead of rigorous standards & hard work). History of K-12, etc.
- Major CUNY changes to placement, remediation, low-level courses, and high-level prerequisite accounting (i.e., eliminate high-level courses in STEM majors?).
- Likely very few M2 courses in future (only for STEM students who do not pass elementary algebra placement). New non-algebra course for non-STEM majors (majority of clientele). For M2, CUNY uniform final exam will not require passing grade (same for English writing test).
- Begs question: Will placement tests still be given? Will uniform final still be given, or eliminated?
- Biology department offers 1-2 credit math supplements linked to sections of non-major biology (e.g., BIO 33). Custom workbook.
- Students pt-in, scattered through other sections.
- Majors are given a 4-day workshop in math before the semester begins (grant-funded; supplies food, mentors, core textbook at end).
- Pre- and post-surveys.
- Referring students with prerequisite deficiencies to consultations in office hours, and/or the math workshop.
- Are all freshmen now in learning communities?
- Can we get a supplement section to prerequisite skills for math courses?

## Tracking Math; Outreach Ideas; Exercise Ideas; Takeaways

Discussing:

- Steven G. Krantz,
*How to Teach Mathematics*, Chapters 3-4

Attending:

- Daniel, Patrick, Kristen, Aleksandr, Deborah, Eva, Tian (and Sara K.)

Points:

- What else can this group do to move forward with better math teaching at KCC?
- STEM Vision Committee — team up with them
- Run a pilot somehow using new strategies to teach math, and then follow students to see how they do in chemistry, biology, etc.
- With the doing away of math requirements (algebra) for non-STEM majors, we are separating STEM and non-STEM tracks early and with little chance for switching tracks later in education or career without starting over from square one.
- Elementary Algebra M2 is now a multiple-choice test, with a calculator, and students do not have to pass the test to pass the class. As of next semester, students do not need to even pass this class to graduate.
- Given all of these things we can’t control, is there anything we can do? Would expanding the Math Workshop help? It would help some students, but probably not a majority.
- Some research claims remediation never solves the problem — ongoing support will always be needed.
- What other things can we do? Give more practice — students do know some math, but need practice & feedback.
- Physical sciences uses ALEKS (others: MathXL, WebWork.)
- One observation: Even with ALEKS homework 25% of grade, some students still don’t do it. Others find online homework helpful.
- Another strategy is to spend some time on definitions, so that the words in word problems are understood.
- Ask students to draw what the instructions say (show them an example; in chemistry, physics, biology).
- CHE 12 “all about logs”, but only prerequisite is MAT 9; logs covered briefly in MAT 14.
- Many students are trained to be passive learners, so much so that many consider preparing for class & doing the exercises ahead of time on their own as cheating.
- How has this FIG affected your teaching practice? For most, understanding what math is needed for science courses, vs. what math is taught in prerequisites, has been revelatory and helpful.

## K-12 Preparation; Cultural Study Habits; General Principles at Start or End?

Discussing:

- Steven G. Krantz,
*How to Teach Mathematics*, Chapters 1-3

Attending:

- Aleksandr Gorbenko, Patrick Lloyd, Daniel Collins, Kristin Polizotto, Tian Cai, Deborah Berhanu

Points:

- Question: What did you agree or disagree with?
- Moore Method: Surely inappropriate for our students.
- Question: Why are KCC students unprepared?
- K-12 prep as a problem for KCC students.
- Math anxiety among K-6 teachers, esp. females, who then communicate this to students (esp. girls who identify with teacher).
- The students get high school diploma without really learning math.
- Comparison to teacher qualifications in different countries/states.
- Specialist K-6 teachers would be the #1 thing to change (DRC).
- Working in groups outside of class — effective but possibly a challenge for our students — culturally, time constraints, socially, etc.
- Groups only effective if carefully chosen — someone who knows what they’re doing.
- Asian students may know how to do the problems & get good grades, but necessarily able to apply or engage with the world with that knowledge.
- Influence of home environment (in terms of academic discipline) and of social class.
- Do the suggestions in this book help
*all*students? Effective across the board? (Probably.) - Students cannot set up a problem — logically — because that unit is skipped in K-12.
- Logic not required at KCC (even in math department) — inductive & deductive reasoning is not required.
- Krantz recommends examples, then building/developing theorem.
- Other option: Principle/theorem, then proof, then examples (traditional in definition-theorem-proof-application).
- Daniel thinks traditional is better for students who will not be mathematicians. But Tian/Pat thought examples earlier on was better.
- Next meeting: Nov-22nd at 12:40 PM (to include outside grant observer).

## Prerequisite Challenges; Testing and Time; K-3 Experience

Discussing:

- Steven G. Krantz,
*How to Teach Mathematics*, Preface

Attending:

- Daniel Collins, Emral Devany

Points:

## (1) Prerequisite Challenges

- Started with an overview of the book, as some people were just being informed/picking it up today. In future sessions we’ll plan to cover the main chapters, and try to find ways to attract more attendees.
- Discussed challenges in classes where many students don’t have the expected prerequisite math skills. (For example: Integrated Seminar in Biology, including majors and practicing nurses).
- Examples: Estimated 1/3 may not be able to compute a percent increase between two numbers (or its inverse). This would be used in a metabolism problem, etc. Note that this was previously tested on the CUNY-wide remedial CEAFE (CUNY Elematary Algebra Final Exam), but was recently removed as it was considered too difficult.
- Unfamiliarity with efficient conversion methods: Biology, using the metric units (multiplying by 1000 vs. moving point 3 places). Statistics, converting percent to decimal (dividing by 100 vs moving point 2 places).
- Problems with students knowing algebra but not arithmetic. (CUNY entry testing with COMPASS aborted testing on arithmetic if algebra was passed; this may be reversed with new Accu-Placer test, which combines both in a single test/score).
- Students passing math via raw, herculean memorization of procedures (much harder). Understanding concepts can make these methods trivial to remember.
- Problem of instructor not realizing basic things that students don’t know, possibly for many semesters or years (e.g., types of energy, conversions, checking solutions to equations).
- History of repeating definitions without quantitative applications in some prior science classes.

## (2) Testing and Time

- Test-taking history, where students are mostly exposed to multiple-choice tests and tricks to pass them (Krantz in Ch. 2 strongly recommends non-multiple-choice tests for this reason).
- Need to test/quiz on exactly the basic skills practiced in class (not more exotic extensions).
- But: Time constraints on grading, plus assignments, may bias towards multiple-choice tests.
- Suggest: Tests that are part multiple-choice, part short answer (possibly fewer in larger classes).
- Suggestion: Using a point-and-click Rubric in Blackboard for quickly grading assignments and providing feedback (e.g. in a programming course).
- Krantz in Ch. 1: Time management in class: How to avoid an activity that goes long, cut off in middle by end of session, need to pick up in middle next time?
- Prepare 2-3 short exercises in class so one or more can be cut for time if needed.
- Permitting students to go early if they complete exercise quickly: Can give extra attention for other students (with reduced anxiety over struggles in front of peers).

## (3) K-3 Experience

- Current student experience in K-6: 1st grade — Test correct performance on several defined procedures. 2nd grade — Give credit for any generation of correct answer, no matter how. Instruction on “how to take multiple-choice test” tricks. 3rd grade — Standardized multiple-choice tests begin, used to assess schools. Seemingly large strategic shift at the point when school needs high grades on standardized tests.
- Common Core complaints: Often unjustified.
- College students not knowing 2nd-3rd grade concepts (scientific method, etc.)
- Passing all students K-12 (no hold backs).

## Fall 2016 Info: How to Teach Mathematics

**Fall 2016 Book: **Stephen G. Krantz, *How to Teach Mathematics* (3^{rd} Ed.), published by the AMS (American Mathematical Society), 2015. This an update from earlier editions published in 1993 and 1999.

**Book Availability:** KCTL has a supply of books for our fall reading. If you can commit to joining at least two of our fall discussion meetings, then you can pick up a book for free in M-391.

**Discussion Meetings:** Mondays, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, in M-391 on the following dates.

- Sep-26: Ch. 1-2, “Guiding principles”, “Practical matters”.
- Oct-24: Ch. 3-4, “Spiritual matters”, “The electronic world”.
- Nov-21: Ch. 5-6, “Difficult matters”, “A new beginning”.

**More ****Optional Readings:** Available online.

- End matter (contents, preface, bibliography, index): www.ams.org/books/mbk/089/mbk089-endmatter.pdf
- Appendix from earlier edition (critical responses): www.math.wustl.edu/~sk/teachapps.pdf