Ka‘ana Mana‘o: New program to help students prepare for college-level math

When considering opportunities for career development, it’s important to note that math plays an increasingly important role in a wide variety of industries. A new “Pathways” program launching this fall at the University of Hawaii Maui College will help students meet their developmental math requirements in preparation for college-level math, which provides the critical math skills needed to be successful.

The “Pathways” program will provide “wraparound” support services assisting those in developmental math. “Pathways” students will benefit from academic coaching, tutoring, career and personal counseling, and supplemental instruction. This comprehensive approach takes into account each student’s personal, educational and career goals so they get the most out of their investment in education.

These new services are a key component of Community College and Career Training Hawaii, a $24.6 million grant awarded to the University of Hawaii Community Colleges through the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

“It’s a big paradigm shift for the college,” said John McKee, vice chancellor of Academic Affairs. “With the new ‘Pathways’ program, students in developmental math will be assigned an academic coach who will take a one-on-one approach and help meet each student’s specific needs.”

Part of that approach is helping students overcome their own preconception of whether they’re “good” in math. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching stresses that success in math is more frequently due to “productive persistence” than inherent ability.

In an article on the Carnegie Pathways blog, “There Is More to College Success Than Test Scores and Lesson Plans,” it notes that some students come to the classroom with “math scar tissue” from less-than-positive past experiences. Through academic coaching, students learn to anticipate setbacks as part of the learning process and see them as opportunities to try something new or solve a problem.

Math is more than just a set of algorithms to be memorized. It’s a connected set of concepts that can be understood and applied. Math students learn to ask questions, face the anxiety of getting an answer wrong the first time, and admit when they need help. They discover that optimism, persistence and social intelligence, not an inherent ability, are the habits and mindsets critical for them to bounce back from new challenges that inevitably come up in college, and at work.

The importance of math in science, technology and engineering fields is readily apparent, but mathematical literacy is the foundation for a wide variety of careers.

In a speech presented to the American Mathematical Society, former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said that “almost 90 percent of new jobs require more than a high school level of literacy and math skills. . . . Indeed, almost every job today increasingly demands a combination of theoretical knowledge and skills that require learning throughout a lifetime.”

With the resources for student success at UH Maui College, gaining that theoretical knowledge, and the skills to apply them, is within reach. In addition to “Pathways,” the college has The Learning Center on campus, which provides one-on-one tutoring by a professional staff member or a peer tutor in English, math, foreign languages and other subjects. Sessions usually last about 25 minutes and are available on a walk-in or appointment basis.

There’s still time to apply for summer or fall classes at UH Maui College. To apply online, visit our website at www.maui.hawaii.edu. To learn more about other student support services available on campus, call our academic counseling department at 984-3306.

* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “sharing thoughts,” is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.