Scaling Mathematical Literacy Courses

My college (Lansing CC) has implemented a second version of Math Literacy, which allowed us to drop our pre-algebra course.  I posted previously on the ‘without a prerequisite (see

Here is a summary of where we ended up in the first semester of having both Math Lit courses.

  • Math105 (Math Lit [with math prereq] has 8 sections with about 165 students.
  • Math106 (Math Lit with Review [no math prereq] has 9 sections with about 225 students

With these 17 sections of Mathematical Literacy, we have quite a few instructors teaching the course for the first time.  Most of the instructors new to this teaching have been involved with the development of the course and policies, where we discussed text coverage and technology expectations for students.

As part of our collaboration, we are having bi-weekly meetings with as many of the instructors as can manage the ‘best time’.  The leading issue being dealt with is the textbook purchase; we’re helping as best we can with that, but buying the textbook is outside of our control.

We are talking about learning and teaching issues.  For example … how to balance an emphasis on concepts to enable reasoning with an emphasis on procedures so that students can actually ‘do something’ with the math (like have an answer to communicate).  We are talking about which small-group structures seem to work well in this course.

Our approach to scaling up Math Literacy is based on a long-term professional development approach.  Our bi-weekly meetings will continue as long as there seems to be a need (one semester, one year, or longer).  We are looking in to setting up a shared collaboration space for the instructors, which will enable those not able to attend to be involved.

In our structure, students who do not place at beginning algebra (or higher) are required to start with Math Literacy; those at the beginning algebra have the option to use the Math Literacy course.  After the Math Literacy course, students have 3 options:

  1. Take our Quantitative Reasoning course (Math119) … required for most health careers
  2. Take out Intro Statistics course (Stat170) … required for some other programs
  3. Take our Fast-Track Algebra (Math109) which allows progression to pre-calculus

Unlike some implementations, our vision of Math Literacy includes all students … even “STEM-bound”.  Faculty teaching our STEM math courses are pleased with the strong reasoning component of Math Literacy.  We will be collecting data on how the various progressions work for students, and can implement needed adjustments to make improvements.

For those near Michigan, we will be making a presentation at our affiliate (MichMATYC) conference next month (Oct 15 at Delta College).  See for details.

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