A “Powerful Way of Learning”: Teacher Perceptions about Alternative Math Courses for High School Seniors

by | Jun 2021

Math instructors teaching alternative 12th-grade courses outside the “traditional” high school math curriculum were overwhelmingly positive in interviews about the effectiveness of the classes, particularly for students who are planning to attend college but have struggled with math prior to this class. Teachers said that the courses’ instructional approach, which is project-based and studentcentered, is a better way for students to learn and for instructors to teach. They described the shift in content—from algebra or calculus to real-life problem-solving in areas such as data science and finance, for example—as engaging for students and aligned with what most students need in order to be successful in college and the workforce.

February 2023 UPDATE:

A new report featuring new research by Sherrie Reed, Cassandra Merritt, Michal Kurlaender, and Kathy Bracco highlights six partnerships between college-level and high school math educators to develop and implement innovative courses. The authors find improved outcomes for the more representative group of students who take the new courses, including an increased likelihood of completing course requirements for admission to state universities. The innovative advanced math courses studied are described more fully in six case studies.