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Charles A. Dana Center Higher Ed In Brief
November / December 2018
A Message from Paula
Paula Talley, Manager of Professional Learning
I can’t believe winter break is almost here. What’s next? Planning for spring!

As Manager of Professional Learning for the Dana Center’s Higher Education team, I’m aware of how difficult it is—both timewise and financially—for faculty to leave campus for professional learning.
  • Are you looking for an affordable way to participate in professional learning hours?

  • Do you want to engage with peer faculty around the country on strategies to deepen student understanding?

  • Do you want to learn techniques promoting effective student discourse through active and collaborative learning?
At the Dana Center, we’ve listened to your needs and have developed a personalized, research-based professional learning experience that does not require you to leave your office. I’m excited to share our spring offering of FOCI: Focused Online Collaborative Interactions, our virtual synchronous professional learning series.

Our FOCI series not only will help you learn new teaching strategies to foster collaborative and active learning in the classroom, but it also provides time in between sessions for you to practice those strategies in the classroom before coming back together with your peers to share observations and consider revision.

Please join us and your colleagues around the country as we continue to find ways to increase effective student learning in our classrooms — and have fun while you do it!
Paula Talley signature
Paula Talley, Manager of Professional Learning
Higher Education Strategy, Policy, and Services

Registration is open for FOCI Series 1: Deepening Student Understanding.

Early bird discounts are available through January 15, 2019.

Space is limited. Don't wait to sign up. 
Learn More & Register Now
“Although I came into this professional development opportunity with knowledge of active learning, I was able to increase my knowledge as well as the productivity of my students in new and inventive ways. ”
— 2018 FOCI Participant
What We're Doing 
From college-ready students to student-ready colleges, new mathematics initiative seeks change
Introducing the Dana Center Launch Years
The Launch Years initiative, a new Dana Center effort to drastically improve students’ college readiness and success in mathematics, looks to align K—12 schools and higher education. Supported by a $6.68 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Launch Years specifically aims to address barriers that keep many students — especially first-generation college students and those from low-income families — from progressing in their math courses between their junior year of high school and their junior year of college.

Successfully progressing from high school through college math coursework is an obstacle for too many students. Launch Years therefore rethinks current structures, policies and practices that shape the mathematics experiences students have in those years.

Learn more about Launch Years.

Community colleges receive mathematics pathways awards
Martha Ellis at the Texas Math Pathways Awards

Successful math pathways implementations take an incredible amount of work to achieve. Coordination among departments, faculty, administration, policymakers, and other institutions and stakeholders is just the beginning. As the adoption of math pathways expands, it’s important to recognize those teams that have achieved excellence in their implementations.

Implementation teams from five Texas community colleges were awarded prestigious recognition for their efforts.

Read about their achievements here.

Math from high school to college and from college to career

West Texas is a hub of energy production, industry, and agriculture, and students in the region deserve the best opportunities available to receive math instruction that is relevant and aligned to their goals in higher education and their careers. The Greater Texas Foundation awarded a $1.2 million grant to the Dana Center to work with select two- and four-year institutions in the area to develop mathematics pathways. In this case, the work also focuses on engaging school districts and industry leaders in the region to better serve students’ transitions from high school to college and from college to career.

Learn more about this grant and the work it supports.

Leading conversations and learning at AMATYC

In mid-November, teams from the Dana Center and a number of our collaborators and affiliates presented at this year’s AMATYC conference in Orlando, Florida. We also had a strong presence at the Third National Mathematics Summit: For Math in the First Two Years of College in the days leading up to AMATYC. As always, responses to our work, with presentations on topics ranging from co-requisite course design and faculty development to math instruction for nurses, were strongly positive.

Find out more about our AMATYC activities.

A very busy kickoff year for Math Education for Nurses
Martha Ellis at the Texas Math Pathways Awards

The Math Education for Nurses Task Force, a collaboration between the Dana Center, Mathematical Association of America (MAA), and Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN), has been extremely productive since its official formation this past spring. Between high-profile appearances at conferences, consensus-building work among stakeholders, and the creation of the first special interest group to address hot-topic issues, “Math for Nurses” is poised to provide critical guidance in the field of medical education.

These and other activities are detailed in the inaugural issue of the Math Education for Nurses Newsletter, a publication distributed every two to four months covering the latest in this cross-disciplinary work. See the first issue here and be sure to sign up to receive it yourself.
What We're Reading
How math pathways transformed one student’s relationship with math

When Gabriela Patino’s placement assessment at El Paso Community College indicated she needed course work in developmental mathematics, she feared the requirements would slow her efforts in reaching her goal of becoming a nurse. After taking the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning course, however, Gabriela found her relationship with math improved. The course’s focus on real-world applications of mathematics, active learning, and making math relevant and relatable helped Gabriela succeed and develop confidence in her mathematical abilities. 

Read Gabriela’s story.

Setting the conditions for statewide reform in mathematics

What state-level structures, conditions, and processes facilitate statewide implementation of mathematics pathways? The DCMP’s Mathematics Pathways to Completion (MPC) initiative, a six-state project supporting statewide implementations of mathematics pathways over a three-year period, provides a model to begin answering this question.

The Community College Research Center, a leading voice in community college research and reform at Columbia University, recently published “Mathematics Pathways to Completion: Setting the Conditions for Statewide Reform in Higher Education,” a report exploring the structures of the MPC and the impact this work has had on math pathways implementations.

Download the report.

Dana Center joins in boosting student achievement in Arkansas

Teams from the Dana Center will collaborate with organizations and state agencies in Arkansas in a statewide effort to help adult learners and other underrepresented groups succeed in college mathematics. The collaboration is funded in part by a grant from the Kresge Foundation. 

Read more about the collaboration in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Rethinking the role of math in educational equity

Mathematics is not simply an academic subject: It’s a key mechanism in the distribution of opportunity. Pamela Burdman’s new report, from Just Equations, examines the architecture of math opportunity and addresses the need to redesign math pathways to make math education more equitable.

Read the report here.
Spotlight Publications & Resources
Addressing student challenges in transfer and applicability

Most state– and system–level policies and practices support the transfer of credits, but do not account for the applicability of those credits to a student’s program of study. Even when students are able to transfer credits, those credits might not count toward their desired majors, which can lead to wasted time, increased costs for both students and the state, and students dropping out of college altogether. Efforts to remedy these problems are most effective when enabled by a well-considered policy environment which, in turn, is informed by data.

In Washington, substantive steps have been taken to address this issue with a data-driven process, including the development of a state-level data framework for use in the monitoring and assessment of transfer and applicability across institutions.

Learn how. Read the latest installment in our Notes from the Field series.

Three factors critical to building mathematics pathways that last
This image shows three interlinked circles. Text within each circle reads, from left to right, "Transfer and Applicability," "Pathways Alignment," and "Placement and Acceleration."
When implementing multiple math pathways in an institution or system, the work is never complete. True student persistence and success require attention to multifaceted issues well outside any single classroom or department. To ensure new gateway course sequences become standard institutional offerings that can endure and improve while helping students advance, it’s helpful to understand and address some common challenges.

Our newest Call to Action brief explores the obstacles in three areas critical to scaling and sustaining math pathways. The brief provides strategies for meeting those challenges. 

Read about it here.

When practice partners with policy
This image shows a group of four women interacting at a table during a professional learning event.
Some of the more challenging things to navigate when you’re implementing math pathways include critical partnerships, communications strategies, state policy environments, and questions of transfer and alignment. Fortunately, innovative work underway in numerous states provides helpful examples of effective strategies to meet those challenges.

Our new brief, Creating Structural Change for Student Success: State Mathematics Task Force Accomplishments and Progress, brings together findings from DCMP implementations in 13 states. The brief focuses on systemic-level practices and processes necessary to help modernize entry-level college mathematics program.

Learn more.
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