March 10, 2011 At our department meeting last Friday, we broke into our three planning groups: Math Resource Center, Statistics Course Revise and Course Redesign. I'll summarize the activities of each of the groups. Math Resource Center: Our college President gave us a document that should help guide us to generate WSCH through the current functioning of our MRC. A group of three of us in the department will soon meet with the VP of Instruction to get this going. We've also begun to gather data in our MRC about who serve. We have been surprised to find that student tutors are tutoring mostly students above the developmental math level. Instructors will start gathering this data while they are in the MRC as well. We're wondering if developmental math students tend to go to instructors more often. Statistics Course Revise: We currently have a 3-unit semester course. There is a strong feeling that we would like to include some lab work and turn it into a 4-unit semester course. The members of this committee will be looking at the models at other community colleges as well as the feasibility of doing this at West Valley. I'll be asking the colleges represented in BAKE what their stats courses look like as well. Course Redesign: We agreed that we don't want to completely restructure our developmental math sequence at this point. However, we do want to stay abreast of projects such as StatPath. We also want to fine tune aspects of our developmental math sequence. There was discussion about the advantages of completely separate Introductory and Intermediate Algebra curricula vs. the spiral approach that we use. I will be asking BAKE colleagues about their experiences with this. We also discussed putting in place mandatory support structures for students retaking developmental math courses. February 2011 At West Valley College, the Math Department has moved into brand new offices and classrooms. Things look beautiful and our math classes are bursting at the seams. Now seems to be a particularly good time to look toward the future. There are three fairly major projects our department is working on. Every full-time member of the department has signed up to work on one (or more) of these projects. The first involves our Math Resource Center. In the new building, the Math Resource Center is in the physical center
of the building. It has a very inviting atmosphere and is usually
completely full with students doing math! Our center is staffed only by hourly tutors and instructors volunteering one office hour per week. Unfortunately, we are unable to have a tutor in the center at all times and there is no funding for someone to coordinate the Math Resource Center on a full- or even part-time basis. Administrators are encouraging us to somehow capture WSCH to help fund more tutors and coordination for the Math Resource Center. But, gathering WSCH usually involved some type of paid coordination. Even with budgets being cut to the bone, we want to better fund staffing for our MRC. This group will research funding models at other colleges and plan on how we can use these and other innovative ideas in our Math Resource Center. The second project involves the structure of our Statistics course. Currently, Statistics is a 3 semester unit course at West Valley. The students use TI-84 calculators for statistical calculations. There is no lab attached to the course where students can get their hands dirty with large data sets using a statistics package. Our department would like to look at the viability of adding a lab to this course as it would more closely simulate what statisticians do in the infamous "real world." The third project is the possibility of restructuring our math curriculum to allow students to reach a transerable math course more quickly. There are a variety of structures being tried in different places to accomplish this. This group will look at how and whether we can do something similar at West Valley. I am currently also Department Chair at West Valley. For years, the department has struggled to find the ideal way to place students in the correct math course. I've read a few articles recently that indicate this is a struggle everywhere. I thought that California was putting in place a common set of placement exams, which would have made this problem much quicker to solve. However, after doing some research, I am unsure whether such a project is happening. I'll keep you updated on what I find out! As you can tell, these projects all involve investigation into what other schools are doing. We will likely be picking your brains through the help of this BAKE Project!