Breaking Tradition in the Mathematics Classroom: Making Mathematics Real, Relevant, and Personal (Project)
Traditional mathematics education is failing students as many are unable to comprehend and master advanced and abstract concepts (Rakes, Valentine, McGatha, & Ronau, 2010). Struggling students, including those at Knapp Charter Academy, face a disadvantage in subsequent mathematics classes and limited opportunities in higher education and beyond. The importance of mathematics, as a gatekeeper to opportunity, makes increasing students’ success in mathematics a necessity. The mathematics failure rates coupled with the proven ineffectiveness of traditional mathematics teaching and learning additionally establish the need for meaningful reform. This project analyzes educational theory and research to determine the effect of certain reform constructs on students’ mathematical comprehension and achievement. A supplementary algebra curriculum was created based on research to improve the plight of struggling mathematics students at Knapp Charter Academy. Authentic real world connections, differentiation for meeting student needs, active learning, and an emphasis on conceptual understanding and flexible problem solving are key features of the supplementary algebra curriculum because research found these constructs linked to increased student achievement in mathematics.