Stakes are high
Thank you for the article “Porterville College classes calculating success”, in the Oct. 2 Education page. Community colleges are too often viewed as job-training centers so it’s nice to be reminded that they are also academic institutions of higher education.
To be designated by the MAA as being one of 16 colleges in the country with a particularly successful calculus program was an honor. I am grateful for a division and an administration that “gets” me and what I’ve been trying to do for calculus students over the last several years.
To give some context to the MAA study, consider that in 1986 there was a great effort by the mathematics community to reform calculus so as to increase the number of students passing calculus 1. There has been however a lack of studies showing that such efforts have had any positive impact. Why should we care? Because failing calculus 1, widely referred to as a gatekeeper course by researchers, can restrict a student’s path into STEM fields. This is a very real concern considering the increasingly-technical society in which we live.
This concern is compounded when you consider that in 2010 the National Academies ranked the United States 27th out of 29 wealthy countries in the proportion of college students with science or engineering degrees.
The stakes are high. The MAA study is relevant and timely and I look forward to the results and how they can benefit our students at Porterville College.
Dr. Jeff Gervasi