Dr. Paul Nolting's Academic Success Press Blog: A Publication Dedicated to Math Success 
Dr. Paul Nolting's Academic Success Press Blog: A Publication Dedicated to Math Success 
Hello readers! Today we thought we'd pass along a few links to various articles about math, its application in the classroom, and the students who have chosen to dedicate their lives to it. Enjoy!
Arizona State University Arizona State University recently posted a fascinating interview with one of its award winning students about his decision to dual major in mathematics and physics. The student, Tin Phan, has a lot of interesting things to say about race and the general expectations he believes certain communities have in terms of potential career paths. "Aiming to be a mathematician is unthinkable for a vast majority of Vietnamese," he writes. "In my community, being either a doctor or lawyer is the only way for a person to be considered successful. So it is natural that although I have always been good at math, I never entertained the idea that I would spend my life learning it." Read more, here. Silicon Republic Throughout our conversations with numerous national math experts in recent months, we at the Academic Success Press Blog have noticed a common theme develop regarding whether or not instructors must find ways to spoon feed their students undesirable material. This article details the efforts of Dr. Eugenia Cheng to literally describe complicated mathematical concepts through the discussion of food! "While math is often seen as a dense, impenetrable, treaclelike subject," writes Elaine Burke, "Cheng’s energy and quick wit makes it as light and fluffy as a flaky pastry." Read more, here. Miami Herald If food doesn't quite pique your interest, then here is another article that promotes a comparably artistic method! "Math education needs to show math as an art, with patterns that can be found, connections that can be made, relevant and irrelevant questions that can be answered, and logical thinking that can be used," writes Hilla Rogel. "No one really knows why math is so good at explaining the world, and that is why it is magical. When teachers transfer this passion to their students, during Mathematics Education Month and every day, it can be a beautiful equation." Read more, here.
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In 2008, the Journal of Developmental Education published an interesting article, written by Whetland and Donovan, which explored the placement process for the developmental mathematics department at an urban college in Ohio. The article particularly focuses on the use and efficacy of the ACT Mathematics and COMPASS Domain I (Algebra) placement scores for students entering collegelevel Intermediate Algebra courses.
The authors found that both of these tests are fairly accurate predictors of success in Intermediate Algebra; those students who perform well on the ACT and COMPASS tests are “more likely to succeed than fail.” This is important, they argue, for multiple reasons. First, they cite a study that shows that 22% of students in the 71% of colleges and universities that offer remedial math courses are either placed in or choose to enroll in one of these courses. From an institutional standpoint, this means that the efficacy of placement tests reverberate throughout a college’s entire mathematics platform. Second, for the students themselves, “the extent of a student’s need for remediation is inversely related to his or her eventual completion of a degree” (a 2005 quote they cite from Desimone, Smith, Baker, and Ueno). Those students who only need to take one remedial course are much more likely to persist through the process than those who are forced to take many remedial courses. Finally, the authors point out that remedial students acutely feel the effects of rising tuition costs, as they often need extra time to graduate. For students receiving financial aid, this puts an enormous amount of pressure on them to pass their first math course, as they risk losing aid upon failure. With all of this in mind, the authors studied 1,694 students (49.1% female, 50.9% male), most of them firstgeneration college students, as they entered an Intermediate Algebra course. All of these students either scored highly enough on their ACT tests or passed a COMPASS placement test during orientation to earn entry into their respective courses. The authors then compared individual ACT and COMPASS scores to eventual success percentages. The authors found that those students who received grades of A or B in their Intermediate Algebra courses had significantly better scores on their placement exams. Students who received a C, however, did not perform markedly better on the placement exams than did those who received a D, though these same C students did drastically outperform those students who eventually failed their respective courses. These scores demonstrate, the authors contend, that effective placement exams directly correlate to a student’s ability to succeed in Intermediate Algebra. Ultimately, the authors conclude that this information proves the overwhelming need for remedial math courses; however, placement exams must prove effective, as placing properly prepared students into remedial courses they don’t need wastes resources, while placing them in courses for which they are not prepared not only wastes resources but also largely jeopardizes a student’s chances to graduate. Universities must, then, set placement exam cutoff scores into extremely precise spheres, which do not allow borderline remedial students to slip through the cracks. For more, see: Donovan, W.J., Whetland, E.R. (2008) “Placement Tools for Developmental Mathematics and Intermediate Algebra.” Journal of Developmental Education Volume 32, Issue 2, Winter. Pages 211. 
AuthorDr. Nolting is a national expert in assessing math learning problems, developing effective student learning strategies, assessing institutional variables that affect math success and math study skills. He is also an expert in helping students with disabilities and Wounded Warriors become successful in math. He now assists colleges and universities in redesigning their math courses to meet new curriculum requirements. He is the author of two math study skills texts: Winning at Math and My Math Success Plan. Blog HighlightsAmerican Mathematical Association of TwoYear Colleges presenter, Senior LecturerModular Reader Contributions
