A defense of the Common Core

I read the following defense of the pedagogical strategies behind the Common Core: http://www.vox.com/2014/4/20/5625086/the-common-core-makes-simple-math-more-complicated-heres-why

I really have no issue with the article itself. Sadly, the article does not address the two great deficiencies in the implementation of the Common Core: (1) homework problems and other assessments to gauge the depth of a student’s conceptual understanding of mathematics in ways that are age-appropriate, and (2) the direct tying of high-stakes tests based on the Common Core standards to the assessment of teachers.

I don’t feel like replicating my previous posts on this topic, so I’ll refer to my past posts here: https://meangreenmath.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/common-core-subtraction-and-the-open-number-line-index/

Gender Stereotypes in STEM

From the article Gender Stereotypes in STEM:

The study, which compared white and black women’s participation in and perception of STEM fields, found that black women were more likely than white women to show an interest in studying STEM disciplines when they enter college.

The research also shows that African Americans were less likely than white Americans to view STEM programs as masculine, which may help explain why the participation levels vary between the two ethnic groups.

The authors argue that race and ethnicity influence the gender stereotypes that women hold, which in turn influence their interest in the sciences, said Laurie O’Brien, an associate professor of psychology at Tulane University and one of the article’s lead authors.

Despite the findings of higher initial interest reflected in the journal article, other data show black women are underrepresented in the number of STEM bachelor’s degrees actually earned, according to the paper.

Helping Mathematics Students Survive the Post-Calculus Transition

Every so often, I’ll publicize through this blog an interesting article that I’ve found in the mathematics or mathematics education literature that can be freely distributed to the general public. Today, I’d like to highlight Michael J. Cullinane (2011) Helping Mathematics Students Survive the Post-Calculus Transition, PRIMUS: Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 21:8, 669-684, DOI:10.1080/10511971003692830

Here’s the abstract:

Many mathematics students have difficulty making the transition from procedurally oriented courses such as calculus to the more conceptually oriented courses in which they subsequently enroll. What are some of the key “stumbling blocks” for students as they attempt to make this transition? How do differences in faculty expectations for students and student expectations for themselves contribute to the “transition dilemma?” What might faculty incorporate into students’ learning experiences during the transition to help students better navigate the shift from procedural to conceptual, from concrete to abstract? This article offers some lessons learned in connection with these questions.

The full article can be found here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10511971003692830

John Urschel, Ravens Offensive Lineman, Publishes Math Paper

I absolutely love this article from NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/03/20/394340722/john-urschel-ravens-offensive-lineman-publishes-math-paper?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150321

Some highlights:

John Urschel is an offensive lineman for the NFL Baltimore Ravens whose Twitter handle is @MathMeetsFball. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math [from Penn State[, both with a 4.0 grade-point average. And this week he tweeted: “My paper, A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector…, has been published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics”

Here’s a link to his article: http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.0565.

Another great quote:

“I have a bright career ahead of me in mathematics. Beyond that, I have the means to make a good living and provide for my family, without playing football. I have no desire to try to accumulate $10 million in the bank; I already have more money in my bank account than I know what to do with. I drive a used hatchback Nissan Versa and live on less than $25k a year. It’s not because I’m frugal or trying to save for some big purchase, it’s because the things I love the most in this world (reading math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive.”