ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard M. Rhodes discusses an innovative learning model unfolding at the Highland Campus ACCelerator to enhance student success rates in developmental education. This President’s Podcast features guests Jenny Bragdon, a former ACCelerator Math student, and Carolynn Reed, ACC Mathematics Department chair. The three examine the impact of competency-based education (CBE) and the delivery of CBE programming at the ACCelerator.
FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
JESSICA VESS: Welcome to the President’s Podcast at Austin Community College. I am Jessica Vess and joined here by ACC President/CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes. Good morning.
RHODES: Good morning, Jessica.
JESSICA: Today, we’re here to focus on really one of the most innovative spaces, I think, at ACC: the ACCelerator. Joining us today is Jenny Bragdon, a student in the ACCelerator once upon a time. A couple of years ago, she kind of experienced what that whole lab was about. Good morning, Jenny.
JENNY: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
JESSICA: Thanks for joining us. We also have Carolynn Reed, our Department Chair of Mathematics here at ACC. Thank you, Carolynn.
CAROLYNN: Thank you.
RHODES: You know, and just for those who might be listening who aren’t familiar with the ACCelerator, the ACCelerator is a large open lab. It’s 32,000 square feet in the former JC Penney’s at the Highland Campus, and so you can kind of point out where you used to buy shoes. You know, women’s shoes, or you know. And it has 604 computer stations. And so, my only ask when the faculty came back and said this is kind of what we need to do is, you know, we’re Texas, and so we have to be the largest, not only the nation, but in the galaxy. And so this is the largest learning lab of its kind in the galaxy.
JESSICA: You know, we brought these guests in today because, really, one of the big success points when ACCelerator first launched was introducing a new way of learning, and we saw a lot success with that with introducing developmental mathematics.
RHODES: We did. And you know, the ACCelerator was kind of the brain child of our Math Department, going out and looking at, like, Virginia Tech and how they used something similar to that, but our math faculty put it together and said, “You know, this is what really makes sense for Austin Community College and this is what we would like to provide to our students.” And so I really just, you know, take my hat off to our Math Department for being bold and courageous because you know, anytime you move away from the way you’ve been delivering something, it’s a courageous action. And so our Math Department, and so Carolynn, thank you for taking leadership and your predecessor and making things happen like this to open it up to students.
CAROLYNN: So our main focus, kind of the reason that we did what we did, is we were looking, we saw a lot students in developmental math who were in the traditional sequence, and they would get stuck. Like, they would either get stuck, or they would be in a course where they do everything except for maybe a few topics, and so some students were getting kind of stuck in a Groundhog Day situation where they would get halfway through and then have to retake the course, and some were going—you know, could’ve gone faster, but we just didn’t have the ability for them to do so. And so we were looking at something where we really could look at each individual student and what they knew and they didn’t know and just focus on what they didn’t know with the goal of getting them through faster.
JENNY: And that’s exactly what happened for me. I was 22 years out of high school, going back and obviously did not remember any of my math that I learned in high school, so I needed to retake all that before I could take college algebra, and the ACCelerator really allowed me to take three semester’s worth of work and do it in two. And it also took all of the pressure of—the fear of “I don’t remember this, how am I going to do,” because the computer program is just review, review, review, and it made it that much easier to work faster, I guess, if that makes sense.
RHODES: And you had an exceptional opportunity—
JENNY: Yes, I did.
RHODES: —just by happenstance.
JENNY: Yes, just by happenstance.
RHODES: So tell us what happened to you.
JENNY: Professor Vance had called and asked if I would be interested in participating in giving a tour to some officials. We didn’t know who they were going to be. She didn’t say. And demonstrating the software at the ACCelerator. And so, it turned out to be Under Secretary of Education and Dr. Jill Biden who came to tour, and we got to meet and we got to participate in a round table discussion and just chatted for a while, which was just such a delight to get to meet both of them. They were both incredibly just genuine and kind people. And then some months later, after I finished the ACCelerator program and had actually just finished taking my college algebra course, I got a call from Dr. Biden’s assistant just saying that Dr. Biden wanted to check in to see how I was doing and that she had—I had made an impression and she had—I reminded her of herself because she also went back to school after having children to finish her degree. And I thought, “Wow, these two are great politicians [laughter] if they must do this to everybody they meet.” Right? They check in.
JESSICA: Taking notes.
JENNY: Yeah, taking notes and remembering me, wow. And we had, like, a 45-minute conversation, which was just really I, you know, thought that was amazing, and then about a month and a half later, I got another call saying that Dr. Biden wanted to invite me to be her guest at the State of the Union, so President Obama’s final State of the Union, and it was such an incredible honor to get to go and I got to meet President Obama and for the first lady, who are just amazing, and got to meet to a bunch of other amazing people who are also guests of the State of the Union. And that was certainly an experience of a lifetime.
JESSICA: So, I want to take it back to how that experience formulated. And it was through your experience in the ACCelerator, about your success through that.
JESSICA: So take us back to what it felt like when you first walked into that space.
JENNY: You know, personally, I really loved the—the lab was so large, I felt anonymous. It was like, oh, I could hide here and just my head down and do my work, which I appreciated the idea of because not only was I 22 years out of high school at the time, but I had also been homeschooled and also because of that kind of taught myself math and was never sure I got it, you know? Right, even though we, you know, had to take AICETs and all of that kind of stuff, too, it was intimidating to join a formal classroom experience, so this was kind of almost like a bridge between the two. It was a formal classroom, but it was also very informal. And Professor Vance was my teacher there, and she was just so welcoming and warm and helpful anytime you had issues. So, you know, the first experience was like, “Oh good, I can just keep a low profile,” and I felt like I did in a lot of ways. I just did my work, and the work was actually so easy, made easy by the program, and so enjoyable, and that’s actually, I believe, how it came about. As Professor Vance was kind of checking in with me, and I was just like, “Oh, this is great. I’m having fun. Math is, [laughter] like, it’s so easy.”
RHODES: Math is fun.
CAROLYNN: You don’t hear that very often.
JENNY: Yeah, and she was saying like, “Wow, maybe you should be a math teacher,” and I was like, “Well, I’m open to that.” And so that was, I think, what had me on her radar for that. And you know, I was able to witness other people. We would sit at a table of, like, four people, each of us at our own computers, and I was able to witness, you know, various struggles and successes, and you know, my takeaway was, as with all things, it’s what you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it, and the ACCelerator just puts that power in the student’s hands. So if they’re motivated and willing to put in the work, then there’s, you know, no limits there.
RHODES: So it’s pretty neat, isn’t it?
JENNY: It is. It’s beautiful. It’s high-tech.
JENNY: Of course, I have to say like, I didn’t know any different because this was my first experience with ACC and I was like, “Ooh, ACC is fancy.” [laughter] But the ACCelerator is just—it’s so beautiful. It’s like a giant hangar is what it kind of felt like, an airplane hangar but with computer stations, and then you have the tutors set up in various locations and the little cup with light. It’s just a colored cup, a tinted cup, that means you need help, and a tutor will come and help you. So that’s—it’s really streamlined.
RHODES: Very state-of-the-art technology—
JENNY: Yeah, with that plastic cup.
RHODES: —with that little plastic cup— [laughter]
JENNY: Yes, yeah.
RHODES: —you put it up on the light? And you don’t know what kind of cup that is, do you?
RHODES: It’s called a bomber cup.
RHODES: And so that is, some of them disappear because some students know what they’re used for. You know, that’s where you put alcohol in the center, some drink, and then beer around the outside—
CAROLYNN: Or whatever your preference—may be for this type—
RHODES: Yeah, or whatever, yeah. Yeah.
CAROLYNN: —of bomber cups, yeah.
JENNY: Oh, wow, okay.
RHODES: Right, we don’t allow that in our ACCelerator.
JENNY: Not during—while you’re doing math and sipping on a bomber. Might make it very enjoyable, but you might not learn much.
JESSICA: Well, you know, it does speak to the—what you said and the sentiment you share with Dr. Rhodes is the impression the space has had just in one year time span from 2015-16. We had over 13,000 students visit that space, and we’ve gone beyond mathematics to other programs in this area. You know, Carolynn, I’m really interested in your perspective on why you think this works as someone on the faculty side of this, seeing how it’s impacting students. You know, we’ve heard Jenny’s personal experience, but you see it happening over and over again.
CAROLYNN: Well, one thing from a student perspective, one thing we’ve heard from several students, is they feel anonymous and it makes them feel more comfortable instead of being, like, the one person in class who doesn’t know what the professor’s talking about, but you can be anonymous, yet you’re not because one part of this course that’s different than a traditional course is it’s a lot more—the faculty are a lot more intrusive. Like, the faculty will develop one-on-one relationships with every single student because you can do that. And so, you know, the faculty are checking in with you, like doing advising, like “What are you majoring in?” You know, “What do you need next? Is this where you need to be?” And, you know, even if the student’s just sitting there like Jenny was doing, just working, they’re still checking in like, “So are you doing okay? I can see on this program that, “you know, you’ve missed this problem X number of times and it seems like you’re struggling.” So there’s a lot more personal connection even though you feel anonymous, so it’s an interesting mix. And then, along with the faculty, we have several classes going on at the same time, so the faculty work as, like, as a team, and so, often, say, in your course, no one really—everyone’s doing fine, but you see a lot of cups up in this other course. The faculty will kind of cross over into other classes, and that works really well because it’s more of a team. And then you have the tutors coming in. We also have the academic coaches who students can talk with about issues, you know, non-related to math, just life and issues with school and how you deal with those things. So it’s the combination and the team, I think, works really well, and it’s very different from being in a classroom where you’re own kind of isolated unit.
JENNY: Well, and also that gives, I think, the professors, members of the faculty, time to see who’s struggling with what, like you had mentioned. There are times when Professor Vance and then the professor I took the following semester with would say, “Okay, I’ve got five people who seem to be stuck on this one thing. Do we want to have a get-together in a side room and go over fractions?” or something like that. Anybody who wants to join in can, and so that was also really helpful because there were times when I was struggling with something or wasn’t, but I thought, why not go on in and learn a little bit more? And so that’s also helpful. It’s almost like it takes the pressure of teaching absolutely everything in the course away from the professor so that the professor gets to actually be a tutor in a way. Is that sound right to you?
CAROLYNN: Yeah, you can actually help the student with what they need help with instead of just kind of covering everything and hoping they get it. You can see, like you said fractions, that’s a big one. You can really—it’s a lot more fluid. You can say, “Okay, we’re really going to focus on this,” and then we’re going to get it because we’re going to spend some time on it instead of spending, you know, the same amount of time we spend on everything else, we can really focus on this, bring everyone together, and I think that fluidity and that kind of—it’s not as strict on what you’re covering, I think that works really well for faculty.
RHODES: It’s like just-in-time help.
CAROLYNN: Yeah, you can be a little more innovative, and it’s a little more freeform than a general class for students also.
RHODES: You know, and often times what happens in a regular classroom is those who need the help the most are the least likely to ask for it.
CAROLYNN: Yes, they’re very quiet. Very.
RHODES: I was one of those at one time. Sit in the back of the class and hope nobody ever calls on you. But here, this, when you’re kind of working at our own pace and you know you need some help and you put that cup up there and you get it immediately, and that makes all the difference in the world because, you know, often times in a typical class, you’re not going to ask that question and you’ll walk away, and maybe two days later and you’ve forgotten even what the question was or what the area was that you were struggling with.
JENNY: Right. They keep throwing in review questions, and so, if you maybe got something right but you struggled with it but then forgot it, it’s going to give you that to make you remember or relearn. I do remember one time struggling with something, getting some help, working through it, and then coming back and it was one my review list and I couldn’t get it again. And this time, when i put my cup up, I got a different person came over and they explained it in a way that suddenly my light bulb went off, and it was like then I got it. And so, that’s another thing about benefit of getting help from different faculty members. Everybody has their own way of doing things, and you can just figure out which way works for you.
RHODES: Right. And you know, one of the concerns is whenever you do something new, you have a new strategy or initiative, after a period of time, is it making a difference? Does it work? And so we have partnered with a company called Civitas Learning, and they assist us with providing degree map but also a product called Illume. And Illume is a big data source that, you know, you can use what they call predictive-based propensity score matching and statistical process to evaluate because we can’t do a true research where you have, you know, a set group of people and then you look another group of people side-by-side. And so they use this process to evaluate like-type of students and identify who the like-type students are, and then those who have been participating in the ACCelerator versus those who don’t, and did it make a lift in persistence? And you know, looking at the evaluation of that, for those who are at the most risk, the highest risk students, which are first-generation usually, low-income students, those are the two high-risk students, those students had almost an 18 percentage point lift if they used the ACCelerator. And just across the board for any student, it was, like, over a 6% lift. But for students specifically in developmental mathematics, for full-time dev-ed students, it was a 9% lift, but for part-time dev-ed students, it was even higher. It was a 14% lift in persistence. And so it’s—so now, you know, we’ve tried something, we started it in 2014, and then 2015-16, we stepped back and we evaluated, is it working? And it seems to be. So then our strategy as the college is okay, we need to implement this in more locations so students don’t have to come just to the one Highland Campus. So we built this into the new campus that’s going in in Leander. The San Gabriel Campus will have a large ACCelerator. The Rio Grande Campus that’s under construction will be under construction shortly, will have a large ACCelerator also. And the Round Rock Campus will have a large ACCelerator. So we’re trying to create these now. You find something that works and you try to replicate that at the various campuses and give all students the opportunity. So, I do have a question. Carolynn, were you born a math genius, or how did you get interested in it? [laughter]
CAROLYNN: I don’t know. I was not born a genius. I was always—I was interested in a lot of things, and I still am, but I was always really intrigued. A thing that I think I like about math is the puzzle, solving a puzzle aspect of it. And often, I was one of those students who would not do something like the really short way that you’re supposed to do it. I would go down some weird meandering path, but I’d get to the answer, and I was doing correct things. And so I just think that kind of—and that’s why math, I think, is important to teach everyone. It’s just teaching you how to solve problems and solve puzzles and solve like, there’s this problem we have, here’s what we know, how do we use it to solve it? And that’s really what you do with math. So it was that strive to solve problems, which has gone well into being Department Chair. [laughter]
RHODES: And now you practice that every day.
RHODES: So, Jenny, I understand you want to be a teacher.
JENNY: Yes, I do.
RHODES: And so where are you on your path now?
JENNY: Well, I’m starting this fall. I’ve been accepted to UMass Amherst, a University Without Walls program, so I’ll be working with them. I have, as of the end of this summer course, essentially completed my freshman year. Of course, credits can change and all of that. I’m not going full-time, but my hope is that between taking courses in the summer that I would be able to finish within 3-4 years, which was not even in sight when I started. It was like—
JENNY: —”This is going to take me, like, 12 years [laughter], taking one course at time.” But things have changed, so it’s really wonderful. And then my hope is to begin teaching and simultaneously working on my Master’s degree. My ultimate—my original goal was to become a reading specialist, but we’ll see what happens. Now I’m interested in possibly teaching math, certainly science and biology. I’m a message therapist, so I’ve taken a lot of anatomy and physiology, all of that, that’s always been interesting to me. So now I just say I might be willing to teach other subjects. And as far as math goes, I agree with Carolynn that it is really about problem-solving, and anyone can learn math and everyone should be able to learn math. It’s not you’re good at math or you’re not. It’s everyone needs to learn it and can, it’s just finding out how they learn.
CAROLYNN: Getting rid of the barriers.
CAROLYNN: A lot of students have maybe barriers because they didn’t learn a lot in the past, and they also have psychological barriers with math, and I think that’s one big thing the ACCelerator is the way the space is and the kind of team you’re working with and you can be anonymous, but you can’t hide. That aspect really helps with that psychological change and attitude towards math. That’s one thing that we saw when we were gathering the qualitative data from the students is the attitude change, and that’s a huge… That’s half of it right there, you know. If you can change your attitude and think, “Oh, I really can do this,” then you can. It’s just, a lot of students kind of convince themselves they can’t, and then therefore, they don’t.
RHODES: You know, and one of the advantages in the ACCelerator, too, is the fact, you know, in a formal classroom setting, you know, class starts at 8 o’clock and you’ve got to get out by 9 o’clock because there’s another class coming in. One of the great things about the ACCelerator is come in early, stay late, work as long as you want. Bring your lunch, bring your coffee, you know, whatever. But students who really want to work hard, you were talking about that earlier, Jenny, is if they have the will to work hard, they can move as fast as their potential. And so, you know, having that advantage, and then, Carolynn, you talked a little bit about the academic coaches, too. You know, when we first opened it up, we didn’t have academic coaches. We didn’t realize that was one of the needs, and then quickly, I think probably within that first year, we saw, okay, it’s not always the curriculum itself that gets in the way. There are other things that get in the way of a student’s persistence, and so providing them the academic coaches that are there to, again, just-in-time help and working with the faculty to identify, you know, here’s a student that’s really been working. They’ve been here a lot, but they’re not making progress. What’s the problem? And often times, you know, poor study habits or you know, who knows, but that’s what the academic coaches are there for.
CAROLYNN: The whole concept of the ACCelerator and the type of learning that goes on there has really garnered a lot of attention not just in Central Texas, not even just the state, but nationally and internationally, too.
RHODES: I think it’s because all of us in higher education have been struggling with mathematics that students who test into developmental mathematics, there’s an issue, there’s a problem that happens where there is psychological or whatever, but we haven’t been successful across the board and making great strides in eliminating disparity gaps in mathematics. And so trying to find what works, and this isn’t, you know, this isn’t the silver goal, but it’s a part of the piece of the puzzle, that different students learn in different ways. And, you know, for some students, a structured classroom is what they need, but for other students, it’s this type of an environment they really need. And so it’s finding what’s the right mix and not saying, “Let’s just go 100% with the ACCelerator,” because that’s not going to work by itself either. It’s looking in and providing multiple types of opportunities for students to see what learning pathway is best for students and then making sure we have those services and support systems there to help the students.
CAROLYNN: Well, one thing that’s interesting about that place is for one, I’m always surprised at how quiet it is. You know, it’s a huge space filled with a lot of people, and I’m like, “How is it so quiet?” It’s always—there’s kind of a murmur, but it’s quiet and it feels there’s a lot of energy in there when you walk in, even though, you know, everyone’s sitting at computers, there’s just—you can just kind of feel some energy. And everything is brought to students. Instead of saying, “Oh, you need to go to the learning lab and get some help on your class,” “Oh wait, they’re right here, we can just bring them over. ” Or, “You need to go talk to someone and figure out how to learn how to, like, manage your time and study better. ” “Oh wait, I can bring this person right here. ” We’ve even brought some Student Services people over, we have people helping them register in that space. so it’s kind of making it as easy as possible for them to get all the support they need. And I think that’s one big piece of it. And we see students stay. We’ve structured our classes to where there’s a buffer of time in between. They’re not back-to-back so that students can come early and sit in the same spot and then stay in that spot after and then start. The professors have their office hours in the ACCelerator, so that’s, again, they don’t have to get up and leave and go somewhere. And I think that that energy that makes them want to just hang out there, and I don’t know exactly why but we see students hanging out there just all day, you know, they’re going to get more done, even if they don’t want to. Just staring, you know, in that space, “Well, I guess I’ll do some homework.” [laughter] But I just think the space, there’s a lot about the space, even the architecture of the space, and what’s going on in the space, and then the fact that the students have everything kind of at their fingertips there.
RHODES: And I think, you know, to your other question earlier is when other universities and colleges take a look at the data and the results that we’ve been able to produce, they really get interested. And so there’s probably not a week that goes by that we don’t have a visitation from either another college, a university, or somebody who’s really interested, and how is ACC making a difference, such a dramatic difference, in persistence rates and success rates in mathematics? And so there’s a strong interest, growing interest. And, you know, one of the things that we—that I was concerned about at first is how will the faculty like this? How will they like teaching in this type of a space? Because it’s very different and Carolynn, you talked a lot about, you know, the teamwork and how they work together. How have you seen that over the past three years, the faculty response to this?
CAROLYNN: Well, we had some who were really excited to just go ahead. You know, just like anything new, we had some who were like, “I want to try this, it sounds really interesting,” and they dove into it, so it was kind of, you know. We had some who were willing to try it the first time, and then talking to some others, we have more and more who were interested. Most of our faculty who teach it decide they want to teach it again, including our adjuncts. It’s not for everyone, though. Like, some faculty have no interest in doing it, and that’s fine, but there was initially a fear that the computers were going to take over for faculty, you know, because it’s programmed. It’s like you’re saying the program’s teaching you everything, but then what we’ve seen is without the faculty, it wouldn’t work—
CAROLYNN: —because you really need that support, and then as a faculty member, you can actually do the things that you like to do, which is sit down and, like, explain something to someone and help them and show them how to get from Point A to Point B. And so, we’ve seen the interest increase quite a bit from the beginning, again, just like anything new and kind of the attitude. There was a lot of fear at first about like what is this going to do? And that’s, you know, it’s not taking the faculty away. They’re actually even more important in this situation, so it’s evolved.
RHODES: And it’s kind of interesting, too, because while it was designed specifically for mathematics, really developmental mathematics, as other faculty kind of walked through and they hear about this interesting place called the ACCelerator, and so, you know, they kind of wander in there and look at what’s going on, and so all of a sudden, we’ve got other disciplines throughout the college that are saying, “You know, I think we could utilize this space to teach this course,” whether it’s motion graphics or… I was even in there the other day, and it was a film class. And so you think, you know, for theater and film, how do you use the ACCelerator for that? But what they were doing is they’re using technology to show the different delivery styles of different actors side-by-side. And so it’s really, really interesting on how faculty are saying, “Hey, this is a unique space that, you know, my course, whether it’s developmental reading, writing, or motion graphics, or a technology class, it really can work well in here, and I can kind of dedicate more time with individual students and assist them than I could in a typical classroom.”
CAROLYNN: You know, it all comes back to the success of the student and their ability to succeed afterward.
JENNY: It was an interesting change from being ACCelerator and just feeling like I was totally in charge, to then going to a classroom where we had very traditional professor. I was sent home with a book, and I was like, “I have to figure this out myself? Where’s my computer program?” [laughter] And so it was a challenge, but I think from having come from such success with the ACCelerator and knowing that no, I’m not bad at this just because I’m not getting something or I can’t make sense of a certain chapter in my algebra book, doesn’t mean I can’t learn it. Where I think it might be easier to shut down if I hadn’t had that experience, where instead, I just, okay, time to go visit the learning lab. And so I spent time working with tutors at the learning lab until I got something whenever I struggled, and then also, I got together with a fellow student and we worked together, and I kind of won the lottery with that because her fiancé was an algebra teacher at a high school [laughter], so he started meeting with us and it was great, you know. Got through the class with, you know, high marks, so that just, going from a success helps you know you’re going to succeed and not just even have to get through something, but can succeed in it.
RHODES: You know, you mentioned something there about getting together with other students and studying, and one of the neat things about the ACCelerator, too, is having those individual study rooms where—and, you know, it amazes me to walk through there and see a group of about five students in one of those rooms and one of them’s up writing on a board, you know, and demonstrating and to see the interaction among students helping each other through this.
JENNY: Yeah, that’s really—and I experienced that in ACCerlerator as well. There was—I got to witness one young woman who was really struggling and wasn’t—her major didn’t require her to finish or to go as far with the ACCelerator as I did, and I got witness, you know, I got to help her some, other people got to help her, the faculty. At one point, I remember, one faculty member being like, “You only have to reach this percentage point and then you can, you know, then you can move forward with the other classes, so once you reach this.” I think it was that she had to get so many pieces of her pie, you know, to be able to transfer on, I don’t know if she would’ve stayed with it if she hadn’t had that kind of team helping and cheering her on and showing, you know, you just have to get here and then you can move on to something that you are interested in. And so that was also really neat to see. Like, it helped someone who maybe wasn’t going to go on and major in math, but it was helping her get where she needed to get.
RHODES: Until you actually visit it and step foot in the ACCelerator, you have no idea of how promising it is for the future. I was over there this morning for a meeting, and I walked in, and Curtis, who is in charge of the lab, is just a bundle of energy. You know, I swear I walk in there, and if you need a lift for the day, just talk to Curtis. But it’s an amazing environment for our students, and it is producing success. And it’s giving people like Jenny hope for the future and the ability to teach mathematics, even though maybe you never had that desire before.
JENNY: Yeah, exactly.
CAROLYNN: That’s exciting.
JENNY: Yeah, exactly.
RHODES: But you know, before we leave it, I would like to ask Carolynn one more question, and that has to do with, you know, the future of mathematics and the way that we teach mathematics and by discipline and taking a look at are there multiple math pathways for students depending on what their major is, you know? My major was accounting, and so what I had found that helps me the most is statistics. Is that the future, you think? It has multiple math pathways?
CAROLYNN: It is definitely—I mean, it’s something that we’ve been doing here at ACC , and it’s a big push nationwide. I think recently I heard something on NPR. In California, they’re talking about removing intermediate algebra from requirements. It’s like there, it’s a college-level course, I think. But it’s definitely a big push nationwide by the math organizations, but you know, in here, it’s really getting students to take a math course, a college-level math course that actually is useful and relevant to what they’re learning, and that is not, most likely, algebra. Algebra is really for students who’re going on to calculus, essentially.
RHODES: STEM fields.
CAROLYNN: Yeah, STEM fields. So yeah, it’s definitely a big push, and we’ve taken that down into the developmental level and kind of looked at whether they’re going towards what we call a STEM degree or a non-STEM, and we have different ways for them to get to both places. And that’s one way that we’ve seen an immense amount of success because there’s no reason for someone to sit and learn all this algebra when they really need to learn statistics. And honestly, I think statistics is useful for everyone because statistics are everywhere, so… [laughter]
RHODES: And can be used and abused.
CAROLYNN: Yes. Yeah, it’s very good to be aware of how easy to manipulate things now.
RHODES: Yes, yes. Well, again, I want to say thank you, but I think you can hear from the voices, from Jenny and Carolynn, that math of the future is in good hands, and so thank you for joining us today with our second podcast.
JESSICA: Thank you, Dr. Rhodes—
CAROLYNN: Thank you.
JENNY: Thank you.
JESSICA: —Jenny, and Carolynn. This has been the President’s Podcast.Back to Top