WSU Developmental Math introduces new changes

(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)

With math reformation taking root across the country, the Weber State University Developmental Math Program is leading the way with new changes to some of their courses this spring.

“We’ve been sort of rebuilding the airplane as we fly it for the last few years,” WSU Developmental Math Program Director Kathryn Van Wagoner said about the Developmental Math Program at Weber State. “And we’ve made a lot of changes to the program.”

Although most of the developmental math courses will remain the same, new changes will focus on introducing new curriculum and policies to specific courses, according to Wagoner.

One major change this semester will be the use of deadlines, especially in the TERM program (Technology Enhanced Redesign of Mathematics), a web-based and individual instruction course, according to the WSU College of Science Developmental Math program.

Van Wagoner said every homework, quiz, and test in the TERM program will now have a deadline.

Any homework completed after deadline is scored at half credit, and whatever test score a student receives by deadline is permanent.

“Basically they’ve got flexibility up to each test. But when a test is due, that’s it,” said Van Wagoner. “Whatever grade you got, that’s the grade you keep.”

Based on faculty-reviewed student requests and the best math instruction practices, these changes were implemented to help improve the TERM program by eliminating student procrastination.

For Van Wagoner, students who allow their work to “snowball” out of control are not successful in developmental math.

She anticipates that these new, hard deadlines will help promote student proficiency by keeping them on track.

“We are making these changes because we’ve found that students who stay on schedule are the most successful,” she stated. “It has just been too easy for students to procrastinate doing their math without deadlines.”

Another change taking place this spring semester is a new version of Math 950 called “REAL” Prealgebra.

“REAL” stands for Real-world Explorations and Active Learning, according to the WSU College of Science Developmental Math Program.

The “REAL” program will meet in a classroom four hours a week where students will work in groups to actively solve real-world problems.

Van Wagoner has high hopes for this new course.

“There’s a lot of paper, pencil and group work here,” said Van Wagoner. “I think students are really going to like this approach to learning math because it has real-life application and meaning.”

If all goes well, the developmental math faculty anticipates expanding the “REAL” course into the 990 and 1010 math courses in the future.

But for now, the class will be open for two sections in the spring along with other developmental math courses, according to Van Wagoner.

Although improvements have been made to the TERM program and a new “REAL” program has been implemented, these new courses are not for everyone.

According to Van Wagoner, one of the main reasons students suffer in the developmental math program is they don’t know all their resources and courses available.

“One of our greatest challenges in helping students succeed is helping them to be aware of their options,” she said. “But we’ve got the tools to help students be successful.”

She recommends students enroll in math classes that best match their learning styles. Course options this semester range from TERM, to flipped, pathway, and REAL Prealgebra classes.

Although several changes are underway this spring, the main goal for developmental math still remains at the heart of the program: student success.

“We really want students to be successful,” stated Van Wagoner. “We’d also really love it if when students were done, they actually learned math and know that math truly has meaning for them.”