USM Receives $2.98 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Education to Develop Remedial Mathematics Courses for Students in Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Adelphi, Md. (Sept. 22, 2015) -- The University System of Maryland (USM) is one of 15 higher education institutions in the United States to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education under the federal government's First in the World (FITW) grant program. The award will fund USM's work in helping students who pursue degrees in the liberal arts and social sciences perform better in developmental mathematics courses early in their college career.

The USM has received a four-year, $2.98 million grant to implement its Maryland Mathematics Reform Initiative (MMRI), which will introduce a new statistics curriculum for students in these majors. The statistics coursework would be as rigorous as the traditional algebra/calculus curriculum sequence required to graduate, but much more relevant to what liberal arts and social sciences students need for their majors.

In giving students an alternative to traditional remedial mathematics with more "real world" applications to the study of the liberal arts and social sciences than traditional remedial algebra courses, it is anticipated retention and graduation rates will increase.

The USM anticipates the biggest beneficiaries of this future curriculum change will be underrepresented minority students, who typically come to college with the greatest economic and academic challenges.

"USM and our partners took a serious look at one of the biggest barriers to college completion, developmental mathematics, and asked ourselves: ‘How can we make math a meaningful part of students' college education by connecting it more directly to students' majors?' said USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret. "This new statistics pathway will be much more applicable to what students need for their majors and will, we are sure, lead to more student success going forward."

It is clear that Maryland students enrolled in remedial courses face a serious challenge to completing the development or remedial sequence that will advance them to credit courses and, ultimately, a degree. This barrier has been especially high in math, where the only developmental course sequence that currently exists requires demonstrated achievement in algebra/calculus coursework-particularly among underrepresented students.

In Maryland, 42 percent of all African-American students and 41 percent of all Hispanic students entering four-year and two-year colleges require developmental math support, compared to 31 percent of all white students. 

The program will involve five USM institutions--Coppin State University; Towson University; University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and University of Maryland University College-and several community colleges. Those 2-year institutions are Anne Arundel Community College; Garrett College; Harford Community College; Howard Community College; and Montgomery College.

 "All educated citizens need basic quantitative literacy, but that has not always been the approach taken in college courses, which have leaned heavily in the calculus direction. By having our project closely aligned with students' majors, these students can learn math in context," said Nancy Shapiro, USM associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and special assistant to the Chancellor for P-20 education. "Our Maryland Math Reform Initiative will allow us to bring math departments into partnership with other departments around the campus. We'll also bring new teaching technologies to these new courses to increase access and success for more students."

The U.S. Department of Education announcement can be seen here.





Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719