Math pilot class set for fall

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New two-in-one developmental classes are in session.

By R. Eguia 

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

English Professor Juanita Luna-Lawhn is piloting a two-in-one developmental integrated reading and writing class combo this semester that will replace what used to be INRW 0305.

The INRW 0420 Ready Set Go class combines a four-week non-course based option, INRW 0020 with INRW 0420.

The class began with 16 students; four of those students have since dropped, but Luna-Lawhn is confident that the remaining students will prosper.

She said the class has been interesting, “but that’s the purpose of a pilot: to learn. I have learned a lot for the fall.”

The first four weeks of the developmental pilot class is dedicated to a writing workshop of sorts.

“The writing process begins with talking, listening, reading and then finally writing. The first steps to writing are frequently lost, but listening and talking to others is an integral part of the writing process.”

Luna-Lawhn has taught a developmental English course every semester of her 44-year-long teaching career.

She said developmental courses are her favorite classes to teach because she can see the students develop their writing skills and become excited about writing.

“Students are traditionally resistant to writing until I prove to them that I value what they have to say and then they trust me to help them improve,” she said.

“My goal is to make every student feel like their entire life is about writing,” Luna-Lawhn said.

She said this hybrid class is the best thing that could happen for students because it satisfies all the developmental English requirements in one semester, which is a more realistic goal for students to accomplish.

Luna-Lawhn said the language of the new hybrid non-course based option class structure brings on new expectations and she is learning to let go of the old language, which harbored old expectations.

She said it is critical for students to understand that the door to education is being closed right in their faces if they do not take this class seriously.

“If students want to be successful in this developmental course, they will have to be engaged in the class and understand that there is no right or wrong way to write.”

Students who appear in class unprepared don’t feel the pressure of the doors to education closing to them.

She said the most important thing is to get students to move forward and to understand the importance of moving forward.

Math Professor Mary Lennon said the latest developmental math class, MATH 0005, will be piloted this fall.

Lennon called herself the unofficial developmental math expert and looks forward to when she has time to advise and keep students on the math track since new developmental class structures do not require constant lecturing.

She said the math track has been more complicated to navigate as different majors require different math training. MATH 1332, contemporary math, is math for liberal arts majors.

Then there is MATH 1414, College Algebra, for STEM majors, which requires MATH 0220 or MATH 0320, or an ALEKS score of 80-100 or a passing TSI score.

Students have the option to learn in a traditional classroom or through ALEKS.

ALEKS, Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces, is a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system.

ALEKS uses adaptive questioning to determine what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course.

ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics they are most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure topics learned are also retained.

MATH 0305, Pre-Algebra examines ALEKS objectives 1-14. If a student successfully satisfies all 14 objectives, they can test out of the other two possible developmental levels.

Students enrolled in the new MATH 0005 will be dual enrolled in MATH 0305, Pre-Algebra, at the same time with the same teacher. This class is conducted four hours per week while MATH 0305 is eight hours per week.

Lennon said, “It is hard to see what is working and what is not when the programs are changing so quickly and so consistently.”

She said there is a push to reduce the developmental math classes to two courses, subsequently archiving four developmental math classes.

The department is under a lot of pressure from the state because the state does not want to pay for courses that are not for college credit, Lennon said.

Lennon said there is a lot of paperwork involved with making changes to developmental classes, and most of the math department’s suggestions for developmental math course changes are not accepted by the coordinating board.

The new MATH 0005 is the ALEKS instruction equivalent to MATH 0305, Pre-Algebra.

It was created so students could chose between an ALEKS or traditional lecture-based class.

Lennon said this course has about an hour lecture and the rest is heavily ALEKS-base.

“It’s self-paced and it really encourages students to be a little more confident. The students are self-motivated and they learn patience and concentration,” Lennon said.

She created a developmental math flow chart that organized the six developmental math courses offered by the TSI and ALEKS score they earned.

Lennon said, “We can’t take any more content out, so getting the developmental classes down any further might be less successful, but I am open to anything.”

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