An Examination of Two Mathematics Curricula and Their Implication on Learning Mathematics
Many different factors influence a student's learning on their road to knowledge and discovery. Under the right circumstances, any learner can become mathematically proficient. This paper examines one aspect that influences a student's success: the curriculum. Two vastly different mathematics curricula are examined: Metro Nashville's traditional McDougal Littell Algebra I text for Algebra and the new reformed IMP (Interactive Mathematics Program) text. With attention given to four specific areas in teaching and learning-learners and learning, classroom environment, curriculum and instruction, and assessment- and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards and Tennessee State standards for Algebra characteristics are explored and their effects on students learning mathematics. The following criteria helped in the analysis: concerning learners and learning, student role and application; classroom environment, structure, sociomathematical norms, and pacing; curriculum and instruction, application and teacher role; assessment, formative versus summative. A scale from 1-5 rates each characteristic, 1 being very weak, and 5 being very strong. The two curricula receive an overall average score based on the ratings of each characteristic. The curriculum that helps foster students creative thinking and problem solving, autonomy, communication skills and has the highest average will be the best in producing mathematically proficient students. Presented last are the findings and implications on learning mathematics in college and how the curriculum fosters abilities to help students succeed in college mathematics classes.