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Developmental Mathematics: Why?

The existence of a course or program must be based on more than “this is material that students should have had in high school”. This philosophy assumes that high schools and colleges have the same educational mission. One of the critical differences between high school and college is that college students are much more focused on occupational and professional preparation. This fact is central to the statements that follow.

Developmental mathematics continues to be a phrase that describes mathematics courses that are not typically listed as requirements in postsecondary programs; in general, developmental mathematics courses do not transfer and may not count towards graduation. However, a lack of transferability or credit is not a defining characteristic. Developmental mathematics courses may also be defined by “getting ready” for other courses that are required for college programs.

The three pillars of developmental mathematics:

Ü Developmental Mathematics courses prepare students for ‘college level
mathematics’ (mathematics courses listed as requirements for postsecondary
programs).

Ü Developmental Mathematics courses prepare students for other courses which
require a mathematical foundation (such as science, business and technology
courses).

Ü Developmental Mathematics courses prepare students for general academic
success (by building quantitative literacy, academic skills and positive
quantitative attitudes, and by providing challenging, engaging, and nurturing
learning experiences).




Developmental mathematics programs seek to prepare students for a diverse set of courses and programs. Students may change their occupational goals frequently and the skills needed for that occupation, or yet undefined occupations, may also change due to technological change and other factors. Therefore, flexibility and appropriateness of content are important:

6 Developmental Mathematics courses should provide the broadest preparation
possible to support preparation for multiple target courses and programs while
seeking to achieve high pass rates within our courses. The core content of
developmental mathematics courses must focus on topics and strategies that
students can adapt to many situations.



For example, colleges might expect developmental mathematics courses to provide focused instruction for a specific content needed for a limited range of occupations. Developmental mathematics courses need to balance this desire for “just what students need” with quantitative literacy.



Societal situations affect colleges, including developmental mathematics classrooms. Students in these courses often have not been successful in academic work; many have also been advised to lower their goals because of their mathematical ‘difficulties’. In order to not reinforce and perpetuate these inequities, we have this principle of equity to consider:

y Developmental Mathematics courses should empower students to consider
additional and higher academic goals (to maximize the opportunity
for students to pursue both further mathematics and the programs that
depend on that mathematics).


These “3 pillars” and two principles lead to the mission statement for developmental mathematics.


The Developmental Mathematics Mission Statement
Developmental mathematics programs exist in order to prepare students for collegiate mathematics courses, for other courses requiring a mathematical foundation, and for general academic success (based partially on quantitative literacy). These developmental mathematics programs should allow flexibility for students upon completion, and should enable students to consider additional & higher academic goals.