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College Ready: First Year Successes and Challenges


This paper addresses the following claim(s):

"At the UA, we have greatly increased the number of physics teachers recruited. In part, this appears to be due to the opportunity provided for informal peer teaching in the reformed physics classes taken by physics and mathematics majors, both of which have been increasing in numbers going into teaching (including many high-performing students). At the 2008 Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC) National Conference, it became clear that nationally recruiting is still an area that needs to be improved. Careful identification of educational opportunities that influence students to choose a career in secondary physics teaching, and finding which elements are replicable, could be of significant interest and use to the teacher preparation community. Our hypothesis for increased success will be discussed.

Articulation, a guiding concept of College Ready, envisions a system supporting mathematic and physic education that focuses on issues and improves communication between schools and colleges, between colleges, and between mathematics and physics. At the initial Articulation Conference offered in the summer of 2009, several issues were viewed as important. One over-arching consideration concerned communication between each level. Participants valued the sense of community between middle school, high school and college teachers and expressed a desire for continuing conversations and fostering further collaboration. Other major issues included the motivation of students, increasing the number interested in attending college in STEM areas, addressing problems students encounter in college, pedagogy/inquiry based learning, state standards and alignment with college courses.

College Ready professional development is designed to provide teacher content knowledge that is linked to student performance and inquiry-based pedagogical knowledge. Key to this is providing models of good instruction to teachers. Eight workshops were developed and offered during the summer of 2009. Reflective exercises were also utilized as a first step in an ongoing process to support teachers in their efforts to implement inquiry-based instruction in their classrooms. Follow-up sessions will be held as part of this process for continuing dialogue and to encourage instructional changes begun in the workshops.

In addition, the following questions will be addressed over the next two years. First, relating mathematics to the everyday world and to the world of science revolves around the study of quantities, that is, numbers with units. Increasingly, units are seen as critical to understanding the arithmetic of numbers themselves. Research question: Is there is a unifying construct in the way units are used in physics, economics, public discourse, and in 9-14 mathematics?

Second, assessment of learning in high school mathematics currently utilizes various types of standardized tests: end-of-course tests, college admission tests, international comparisons tests, national progress tests, and college placement tests. We plan to focus on two central questions: (1) What measures best determine college readiness and placement in mathematics? (2) How can placement testing in mathematics be better aligned with high school curricula?"