Don’t like math? UW-O asks ‘why not?’

Ben Perlman & Pamela Buechel:

For many college students, high school math is but a distant memory of derivative functions and playing games on graphing calculators.
When a professor mentions that certain math skills are necessary for his class, it sends the lecture hall into a frenzy of questions and worry. It seems that math, more than any other subject, is lost in the student’s transition from high school to college.
With a $69,000 grant, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh geology professor Jennifer Wenner intends to figure out why.
“There are a couple of hypotheses,” Wenner said. “From my own experience, some people get it in their head that they can’t do math, and they get this block about it.”

3 thoughts on “Don’t like math? UW-O asks ‘why not?’”

  1. As the UW-O geology professor digs for her 69K answer, here it is for her.
    1) Anything published by Addison Wesley
    2) CORD Algebra
    3) McDougal/Littel Algebra and Math Thematics
    4) Core Plus
    5) Connected Math
    6) Anything published by Dale Seymour
    7) Everyday Math
    8) Discovering Geometry, by Serra
    The geology professor may also want to consider reading abilities as well. I recently met a young college student attending a northern Wisconsin teaching college for elementary education. She knew nothing of my interest in education. I asked her, with a big grin on my face if she had a lot of phonics classes. She said none but they did make her buy a phonics workbook of some sort. She went on to say it was never used.
    Couple the inability to read a story problem with the fuzzy-headed math listed above and you end up with college students with 8th grade or less math ability.
    It’s 2007 and we haven’t figured this out yet???
    Instead, my crystal ball informs me that the 69K report will point to socio-economic factors, classs size, decaying infrastructure, the gap between the rich and poor, improper nutrition, video games, sugar, soft drinks, adolescent hormones, peoccupation with the fear of global warming, broken families, and the obligatory screed against NCLB.

  2. McDougal-Littell publishes 3 different Algebra texts as well as a line of ‘integrated math’ for high school. One of the Algebra books is very good (structure and method, the classic.) The others look not-so-good from the samples I see. Like most publishers, they put out what is in demand, and for the most part that means these simplified, accessible texts. O.K., dumbed down. Similarly, they have some bad middle-school materials, but also a very good series.
    At our elementary school the other day the math coach was pulling young kids out for one-on-one tests. I overheard one girl giving him a long explanation about how she is a really good student except in math and she just can’t do math, etc. We all know how common that is.

  3. “Do not worry too much about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater.” — Albert Einstein

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