MCTC will be one of the first schools in Minnesota to introduce Statway math curriculum
In the fall of 2013, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) will introduce a new kind of math course to its catalog. Statway differs from other math classes and most other Minnesota college math curricula: it is not a class for math majors. Rather, it is a class for people who do not really like math.
“We hear many stories of students whose graduation is being held up by math requirements,” said MCTC Mathematics instructor Carmen Buhler. “Statway is for people who have struggled with math and need a new way of approaching it.”
Statway: A new way of learning math
“The people who will benefit most from Statway are the students who don’t know why they need math in the first place,” said MCTC Math instructor Donna Spikes.
Developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Statway is a two-semester course for community college students aimed at helping them complete a college-level statistics equivalent with less frustration and lower dropout rates. Carnegie Foundation research found only six percent of developmental math students have traditionally been able to earn college math credit within one year of continuous enrollment. However, within the first year of Statway’s implementation at community colleges, 51 percent of its students were able to meet that goal, despite the majority of Statway students beginning the series two or more math courses below college-level math.
“Math is a struggle for many students,” said Ursula Walsh, MCTC Mathematics instructor. “However, research supports the notion that when students are involved in their own learning, they retain it better.”
“Math tends to reinforce every negative impression in a student’s head,” said MCTC Dean of Math and Science Chuck Paulson. “Many students, particularly people of color and women, come to school holding negative ideas about math. Statway is designed to break down those thoughts and empower them toward success.”
Paving the way for other schools
MCTC will be among only three colleges in Minnesota participating in the Statway curriculum, and one of only 30 colleges nationwide. Preparations to introduce the curriculum at MCTC have been underway for more than a year. Much of the preparation involves the faculty’s own participation: whereas most math courses and curricula rely on textbooks, Statway relies on instructor-driven samples and engagement.
“We’re currently experiencing a national crisis,” said MCTC Dean Paulson. “On one hand, access to college is no longer an impossible dream because of schools like MCTC. On the other hand, graduation rates at community colleges are low, in part because of students’ inability to complete math. Statway takes into consideration student values, backgrounds and goals and cuts out what’s not necessary.”