WAC Assignment Highlight: Foundations of Mathematics Education (MEDU1010)

Professor: Andrew Parker

Course: Foundations of Mathematics Education (MEDU1010)

Assignment: Is Algebra Necessary?

As part of a weekly assignment series, students were asked to read an NY Times op-ed piece by Andrew Hacker, an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, in which he argues that mandatory mathematics education in high school and college does more harm than good to students.  Students were asked to respond to his criticisms, using sources where necessary to back up their claims.

What WAC principle(s) does this assignment exemplify?

This is a great example of how current events/popular culture can be incorporated into a course curriculum. One virtue this has is encouraging students to relate course material to their everyday lives, which may, in turn, help with retention and understanding.

In addition, the assignment invites students to take a critical stance towards what they are reading, encouraging them to view reading as an active process. This is crucial as they grapple with not only course material, but information they come across on a daily basis whether inside or outside of the college curriculum.

How might this type of assignment be used in other courses across the curriculum?

 Another plus for this type of assignment is that it can be flexibly used in almost any course, not only with op-eds and news articles, but relevant documentaries, YouTube clips, podcasts, and so on.  The more connections students can forge between what they are learning in class, and the world outside the classroom, the better.