Home Featured News New math placement course and policy to take effect winter 2017

New math placement course and policy to take effect winter 2017

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A Math Department poster on the second floor of the College Park Plaza building.

By Jordyn Horton – Collegiate Staff

A new math placement policy and a new preparatory math course will be added to the curriculum at Grand Rapids Community College which may affect students in the upcoming year.

The Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) assessment is the new math placement assessment at GRCC that will take effect in the winter semester 2017.

Jason Schueller, coordinator of academic placement and enrollment, explained why the policy changed.

“It was an initiative by the math department to help students improve, better their math grades, but also place them in the correct math class,” Schueller said.

Some current students will be affected by the new math placement policy.

“If you haven’t taken a math class, then you have to take ALEKS,” Schueller said. “Basically, you just can’t come in and take a math class like before.”

Future students and students who plan on taking a math class will be required to take the ALEKS PPL assessment before enrolling in a course. Students can take the assessment up to four times for free.

“Essentially anyone who wants to take a math class has to take this,” Schueller said.

“If you need to take it to get admitted to the college, you would have to take it here on campus,” Schueller said. “If you get admitted to the college based on either SAT scores or transfer credits from another college, you can take it at home or  unproctored. But you need to take it before you take a math class.”

Schueller said that ALEKS PPL tests all facets of math including calculus, geometry, and trigonometry.

Schueller said that the assessment involves artificial intelligence.

“The questions are based on your responses,” Schueller said. “There are some pre-questions before, so it kind of gauges your background in it a little bit. So, what kind of math classes you’ve had before, what math class you’re trying to test into.”

Schueller explained that ALEKS PPL is meant to help students.

“It’s really to help you make sure you’re in the right math class to start, and the big benefit is if you don’t do as well as you thought you could’ve, you’ve got four more chances to take this.”  

“You have a personalized learning module to help you go through it,” Schueller said. “It’s self-paced, you have six months to go through this learning module once you take the first assessment, and it’s really to help bump you out of maybe some of those developmental ed. classes, or get you to the higher level math class that you think you should be in. The last thing you want to do is get into a math class you’re not ready for.”

If students have questions about the ALEKS PPL, they can contact the enrollment center at 616-234-3300 or the math department at 616-234-4253.  

A new preparatory math course, Mathematical Literacy (MA 099), will be a starter class for students taking Mathematics for Liberal Arts (MA 124).

“The purpose for this class is to help students who need to take math for liberal arts be well prepared for it, and hopefully instead of taking the MA 097-MA 098 two classes, they could take one class to meet the prerequisite,” said Mathematics Developmental Math Coordinator Shanna Goff.

Goff shared some information about the mathematical literacy course, and said that they’re working on getting everything through the curriculum approval process.

“It’s going to be a little bit about number sense and reasoning about numbers, proportional reasoning, a little bit of linear functions and maybe some functions that aren’t linear, some geometry topics,” Goff said.  

“It has a few things that you would see in MA 097 and a few things you would see in MA 098, the elementary algebra and the pre-algebra type topics, but a lot more context based with more lab type activities,” Goff said. “A lot more about thinking and reasoning numerically, which is why we call it mathematical literacy.”  

Goff said that they only anticipate a certain set of the population, at this point, to take the course.

“Now this is not for people who think that they’re going to go on, where they might need statistics or they might need to take some calculus,” Goff said.

“If they need to go the STEM path, then they need to do the algebra sequence and if they’re going into a field that might require them to take statistics, this isn’t meant to lead to that either,” Goff said. “It’s just to get them ready for math for liberal arts.”

Goff said that the new course could be available during fall semester 2017 or winter semester 2018.