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Frameworks for Mathematics and Collegiate Learning

Helping students develop the skills, mindsets, and behaviors they need to be successful in college

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Course Overview

Frameworks for Mathematics and Collegiate Learning is a semester-long course designed to help students develop the strategies and persistence necessary to succeed in college, particularly in mathematics courses, and in their careers and lives. It is a credit-bearing college-level course designed to help meet the immediate and long-term academic needs of students placed into developmental education courses.

Frameworks lessons are built around four themes:

  • Building community and connecting to campus resources
  • Developing and maintaining motivation for college success
  • Developing and using effective study strategies and skills
  • Finding direction in college

Free use of these curricular materials is made possible through support from the Texas Association of Community Colleges and funding from the Achieving the Dream Catalyst Fund. You are welcome to download and use these materials, either to implement the course as-is or to use the curriculum materials to enhance courses that already exist on your campus.

Course Information and FAQ

This Annotated Bibliography provides information about the theory and evidence informing the course content and pedagogy. For background information on the structure and content of the course, including information about the research on which it is based and the development and pilot testing of the materials, start by reading the Introduction. The Learning OutcomesCourse Overview, and Course Essentials provide more detailed information about the curricular materials.

  • Am I Teaching Math?

    Will I be teaching math in this course? No! This is an applied learning course, not a mathematics course. Specific attention to the mindsets and learning strategies students can use to be successful in their mathematics courses are highlighted, but mastering mathematical skills is not an explicit part of the learning outcomes for this course.

  • Preparation for Teaching

    How much preparation do I need to do to teach this course? Faculty using this curriculum for the first time report spending a good deal of time in preparation, just as they do whenever teaching a course for the first time. We suggest reading through the entire curriculum before you begin teaching the course to get an idea of how the activities build upon each other and where there is flexibility in timing throughout the semester.

    The curriculum contains some activities that are universally-applicable (such as how the brain works, information processing, and note taking) and some activities that need to be customized to include campus- or college-specific information (such as connections to campus resources and explorations of available technology). The latter activities need to be tailored to the unique resources and sources of information at your college or campus and that are most relevant to students’ success. The curriculum materials provide samples of many of these tailored activities, as well as guidance on where on your campus to look to get the information needed for that particular activity or lesson.

  • Lesson Sequencing

    Do we have to teach the lessons in the order provided? We recommend that the Frameworks curriculum be implemented in the order it is written. Topics are strategically sequenced, guided by theory, and proven in practice.

    Lessons are sequenced so that activities build on foundations established by earlier lessons. In some cases, foundational activities may be two or three lessons prior. If you opt to use an activity out of sequence, we recommend that you read through the preceding lessons to identify readings and/or preparation assignments necessary for the activity. This will help the activity to run smoothly and for the lesson to effectively achieve the course and activity outcomes.

    Another important design feature of the Frameworks course is that more challenging and sensitive material is introduced only after students have completed activities intended to build a culture of learning and sense of community in the classroom. Any use of materials out of sequence should take this feature into consideration.

  • Sample Exam Questions

    Are sample exam questions available for us to use? The midterm and final exam lessons provided within the curriculum do not include exam questions. However, the Dana Center does have a small number of multiple-choice and short-answer questions prepared and available to share if you are interested. Please contact us for more information about accessing these items.

  • Content Prioritization

    Why are some topics, such as learning styles, not included in this course? You may notice that some topics you have previously used in learning frameworks or study skills courses have not been explicitly covered in this curriculum.

    The topics included in the Frameworks curriculum:

    • are the most critical to the overall course objectives and corresponding pacing;
    • are grounded in empirical evidence of their effectiveness; and
    • support the other topics.

     

    Some topics you may be accustomed to teaching in similar courses are embedded in this curriculum in subtle ways. For example, while we do not have students complete a learning styles inventory or a lesson dedicated to learning styles, the curriculum does reinforce that students are building a toolbox of strategies to use in their academic endeavors. Students are directed to consider the demands of the task and their own preferences when choosing which strategy to employ. This curriculum also includes suggestions for how students can incorporate their preferences into a learning strategy (e.g., drawing diagrams or using pictures on flash cards in addition to using words, or creating skits and stories to enact course content as they learn).

    For more information on how to prioritize and/or deepen your emphasis of content in the materials, read the Course Essentials document.

  • Collaborative Learning

    Will students work in groups and if so, how? Much of the work in this course is done collaboratively. Students will often work in pairs or small groups to discuss, plan, and execute activities in the curriculum. Engaging in these activities helps students to become more critical thinkers and provides a space for students to share and learn from each other’s experiences.

    Research that supports the efficacy of collaborative learning indicates that students benefit from exploring topics with their peers. They tend to explore topics more deeply and push each other further when they work together. Working in groups also helps students gain different perspectives on a topic and develop interpersonal skills.

    Even with the emphasis on group work, students are held individually accountable for mastering course materials.

  • Group Structures

    What kinds of group structures are written into the curriculum?

    Success teams: Small groups of four to six students should remain consistent throughout the semester. These groups should be relatively diverse (e.g., try to include students with a mix of different majors, life experiences, and attitudes). A diversity of experience will enable stronger discussions throughout the semester. Success teams work together on many lessons and on the semester-long project. If possible, set up the desks or tables in your classroom so that group members can face one another.

    Pairs: You can have students partner up with an “elbow partner” (someone sitting right next to them) or ask them to partner with someone they have not yet worked with. Be aware that, within the curriculum, partner discussions are designed to be quick conversations with very specific questions for students to address. Having students work in different pairs throughout the semester helps them build relationships outside of their core success teams.

    Expert groups: These groups can be used to “jigsaw” a topic — that is, to approach a topic from several different angles. With this strategy, success team members each join a different expert group to explore one aspect of a topic in detail, then return to their success teams to share their expertise. As each success team member shares his or her expertise, teams develop a rich understanding of the topic as a whole.

  • Managing Group Discussions

    How will I manage group discussions? One concern we hear from instructors is that they are hesitant to move on to the next part of an activity while students are engaged and contributing productively to a good discussion. A good deal of learning takes place during these kinds of discussions, and determining when to move on to the next part of an activity can be more art than science.

    As you become more familiar with the curriculum, you may find that some of the discussion points students introduce can segue nicely into the next part of the activity or into a later part of the lesson. In any event, the curriculum is designed to have students constantly thinking and engaged, and it is likely that students will be able to incorporate their contributions into later discussions.

    For more support to develop your toolbox of collaborative learning techniques, please see our higher education services page.

An Instructor

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