The following is an attempt to tell the story of our work with the Re-thinking Pre-College Math project from Spring 2010 through December 2012. Questions or comments are encouraged and can be addressed to Bill Monroe in the Math Division at Clark College (contact information listed below).

The Clark College RPM wiki site is located at:

The Clark College Math Department website is located at: Clark College Math Department Webpage

Active members of the Clark Team as of Summer 2011

Diana Coatney
Adjunct Professor, Math/STEM
Cynthia Foreman
Assoc. Director E-learning
Byran James
Adjunct Professor, Math/STEM
Luanne Lundberg
Professor, Developmental Ed.
Jody McQuillan
Professor, ABE/ESL
Teri Miller
Adjunct Professor, Math/STEM
Bill Monroe
Professor, Math/STEM
Carren Walker
Professor, Math/STEM
Joan Zoellner
Professor, Math/STEM

The Original Clark Team in Spring 2010

Cynthia Foreman
Assoc Dir E-Learning
Bob Lynn
Adjunct Math Professor
Jody McQuillan
Professor, ABE/ESL
Bill Monroe
Math Professor
Gary Phillips
Professor, Dev-Ed
Sylvia Thornburg
Interim Dean of STEM
Carren Walker
Adjunct Math Professor
Luanne Lundberg
Professor Dev Ed
Dr. Ray Korpi
Dean of Dev Ed
Gail Liberman
Assoc Director TLC

A Summary of Changes due to the RPM Work

Characteristics of the pre-college math curriculum, management & instruction at the beginning of the project.

a) The pre-college math curriculum was separated into three different units.
b) Each unit had their own leadership, instructors and culture.
c) Based on entry level, a student may have to take 6 math classes to be college ready.
d) Attrition rates were extremely high for students requiring 4 - 6 pre-college math courses.
e) There was no "fast-track" option for students to be college ready.
f) The majority of pre-college math courses were taught by adjunct faculty.
g) There were few ways for adjuncts faculty to develop their teaching skills.
h) Most adjunct faculty did not collaborate with colleagues and were reluctant to try new ideas.
i) There was no common initiative or language in the teaching community to address change.

Significant changes at Clark over the life of the project.

a) Teachers collaborate and feel comfortable discussing change in their practice
b) There is a greater willingness for teachers (adjunct and full-time) to try new ideas.
c) Reformation of the pre-college math curriculum is underway with RPM participants playing lead roles in this work.
One approach includes reducing the maximum number of pre-college math courses required from 6 to 3 by
combining several lower level courses into one lab course reducing time and tuition.
d) The Math 089 Pilot continues with 2 - 2 - 1 hour sections per week and using several alternative teaching methods
including the inverted classroom approach. Comparative analysis will be done to see the impact of this approach
on student success as measured by department level assessments and completion rates in subsequent courses.
e) The Math Academy began this fall with a cohort of 26 students to demonstrate the efficacy of linking a lab to a
one-year sequence of pre-college math classes. The hope is to demonstrate a much higher completion rate than is
typical for this entry level without a lab course.

These changes reflect a significant shift in the attitude towards change in teaching practice in community of teachers who participate in the pre-college math program at Clark College. The most dramatic changes were in the attitudes toward collaboration and participation in activities that address changes in the way we perceive and practice our teaching.

An overview of our work at Clark College over the last three years follows.

Central Themes of the RPM Work at Clark College

1) Establish the broad conceptual themes (through-lines) in the pre-college math curriculum.
2) Determine a set of student attributes that contribute to student success.
3) Create an environment where teachers can exchange their ideas about the work.
4) Provide opportunities for teachers to develop new ways to teach pre-college mathematics.
5) Identify areas in the course sequencing where students are struggling to succeed.
6) Establish initiatives to address the issue of student difficulty reaching college level math.

Project Time-Line

Continue for more detail about our themes

1) Through-Line Concepts: broad concepts that persist in the pre-college math curriculum.

a) Proportional reasoning
b) Quantitative relationships involving two or more quantities (variables)
c) The meaning of mathematical symbols
d) Creating algebraic equivalence
e) Number sense

2) Student Attributes: these appear in the Washington College Readiness Standards for Mathematics.

3) Create an environment where teachers can exchange their ideas about the work.

a) Faculty Inquiry Groups (FIGs)
b) Classroom exchanges
c) Reflection Fridays
d) Professional development workshops

Faculty Inquiry Groups (FIGs): Each term several FIGs were formed. Each FIG had from 3 - 8 teachers meeting 2 - 3 times a term for about 90 minutes.

Year 2 FIG activities - There were two broad themes, formative assessments that Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) and classroom exchanges.

Year 3 FIG activities - Year 2 activities continued with the addition of two pilot projects were begun involving structural changes to the pre-college math curriculum. The first involves a new approach to teaching the first term of algebra. The second, called the Math Academy, involves linking a one-year sequence of pre-college algebra courses to a dedicated lab for a cohort of 30 students.

Classroom Exchanges: Teachers paired up and exchanged classroom visits. The goal was to have the visiting teacher observe what the students were doing during the lesson. The host teacher typically had a question posed to the visiting teacher for discussion later. The shared reflection created a powerful communication and learning tool for the participating teachers. Teachers reported that this was one of the most effective ways to build professional relationships with colleagues.

A protocol was developed to assure that the roles of the participants were clear and that reflection activities had a consistent format.

Reflection Fridays: Several presentations were made on Fridays to faculty. Most topics were aimed at getting teachers to discuss ways to engage students in learning or reducing anxiety about math. These sessions allowed many instructors to attend who were not able to join a FIG. In addition to getting teachers to talk about student success it allowed more teachers brecome aware of the work being done on the project.

Professional Development Workshops: A series of two professional development workshops, conducted by Ruth Parker, were held at Clark College during the spring of 2012. This was attended by about 30 instructors. The topics were related to proportional reasoning and attendees participated in learning activities that illustrated the importance of letting students discover ways to understand the principles that are foundational to proportional reasoning.

Initiatives and products supporting changes in teaching and course structure.

First-term Algebra Pilot: A new approach to teaching the first term of algebra at Clark College. Classes mostly meet in two hour blocks, follow an inverted format and use menu driven activities inspired by the work of Ruth Parker. Two full-time instructors, Carren Walker and Joan Zoellner, are leading this work. Two other instructors, Diana Coatney and Bryan James are also using a similar format but are not using two-hour block. Initial analysis shows students are faring well in these classes but it will take more time to see the impacts on student success. The Office of Planning and Assessment will assist in the analysis of student success in this pilot.

Math Academy: A cohort of students are participating in a three-quarter (fall - spring) pilot that links the courses in a three term pre-college math sequence to a dedicated lab course. The three term math sequence is being taught by Elaine Califf. Students completing this sequence meet the requirements to take a college level math course. The lab course, taught by Teri Miller, is offered each term and is dedicated to the course being taught during that term. The lab course provides the student with: a) reinforcement of the daily lesson; b) evaluation of prerequisite knowledge and skills for the course; c) reinforcement of knowledge and skills where students need to grow; d) assistance in developing positive student attributes for success in mathematics and e) an opportunity to participate in a community of dedicated students. The registration costs for the lab is being covered by the Financial Aid Office for 2012-2013. The Math Division is applying for financial support for the cost of the lab in future years. The effectiveness of the pilot is being measured through the work conducted by Diana Coatney and the Office of Planning and Effectiveness.

Classroom Assessment Techniques: Teachers learned about the use of CATs and how to create them. Teachers developed CATs for their own use, applied them in class and discussed the results during later FIG meetings. Much of the inquiry during these later meetings raised the question of how to best respond to the students after doing a formative assessment. That is to say, once a teacher sees students have misconceptions, how can she/he create a learning activity that will help the student?

Examples of CATs that were developed as a result of FIG activities.

Mad Minute Activities were used as a form of Classroom Assessment. Below are several examples.

Spring Retreat 2010 Vision Exercise

"Post-It" Note Comments and Questions from Spring 2010 Kick-off Gathering:

1. Create a standardized test-teaching, with “normed” outcomes. Come up with a viable hypothesis from elements of questions that come forth.
2. Student reported elements to stay in program. What assets, attitudes, behaviors, Student attributes. Cancel and coordinate separate outcomes ABE/Dev Ed math.
3. DO: faculty surveys, student surveys, through line concepts, one program instead of three, access to professional development, bank of lessons, develop data gathering information.
4. Teacher collecting data, no show, don’t do that, tell adjuncts
5. Info gathering – passing rates, faculty, students, and student attributes, teacher behavior, ideas. Where are our students having trouble succeeding?
6. Classroom laboratory, classroom observing/sharing, help with problem solving in teaching practice.
7. Communicating what are we supposed to be teaching, collaborate? Create non-intimidating culture for college, multi-quarter contracts, letters vouching for value of experiment.
8. Research questions; what student behaviors are associated with success? What do our students do to study? What can a faculty member do to help students learn?

"Post-It" Note Comments and Questions from May 13, 2010 Meeting:

1. Discussed the possibility of creating a 10-12 month pilot (Beta) fast-track math immersion program for about 80 students. The plan would include a curriculum that is seamless from MATH 030 level to a completed college math course. The "math program" would incude one hour of lecture and two hours (1 credit) of lab each day. We would remove "holidays" and vacations in the calendar year. A team of fculty committed to learning through active engagement, active learning tools and strategies, and principles of adult learning. Threaded through the program will be designated college readiness skills. The program would be "kicked off" in the summer with a math bootcamp to bring all participants up to a specified level of math achievement.
2. A team will be established to teach and work with the students consisting of math and human development teachers, a counselor and an IT tech.
3. The program will reach out to our struggling students who are committed to "showing up", giving their best effort and actively participating every day. Faculty would identify current students in low level math classes who would be good candidates for the program.
4. An opportunity will be made for members of the Clark community to observe the teaching in the program. They will be invited to come see the learning. Participating Team members will periodically report out to the college about the progress. The Team will also refine the skills and teaching/learning practices in the program to continuously improve student success.
5. We now need to create a curriculum for the program. The androgocial objective of the program is to introduce math students to essential topics of mathematics using compelling "life" problems drawn from environmental, health, community, or metropolotan framework. We will not recreate the wheel so we will look at current curriculum that has been designed for a similar college program. Curriculum must include learning strategies that are in line with adult learning principles. We will identify practices worthy of attention.
6. Appropriate assessments must be done to collect the data necessary to document student progress and success at specified points in the program. Formative assessments will be used on a routine basis. These will need to be identified and created.

Summer Retreat 2010 Year One Action Plans