Dave Vinson has taught college students at Pellissippi State Community College math for the past 21 years. Now the associate professor is taking on an educational challenge aimed at a younger population.
Vinson has agreed to serve as Tennessee’s lead math curriculum writer for a project that could potentially change the way high school math is taught and learned. The Tennessee Board of Regents, the college’s governing body, contacted Vinson when the Tennessee Higher Education Commission sought TBR’s input on someone to work on the project.
The project is being done for the Southern Regional Education Board. SREB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with member states to improve public pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and higher education.
SREB is targeting high school seniors, after tests revealed that many haven’t comprehended previously taught math skills. Vinson is leading the team on restructuring the curriculum.
“The format is a modified version of what are called ‘active learning strategies,’” Vinson said. “In a pure active learning format, there are no lectures. The teacher moderates, but the goal is to get the students in a small group using the math skills they’re supposed to already know. The lessons, as designed, cannot be completed without an understanding of these forgotten skills. This is especially good for students who don’t learn well by sitting and listening.”
The hope is that having actively participated in the learning and recall process in high school, students will better understand the math they were taught early on. If so, they will be better prepared for college math, and some will be able to avoid developmental prerequisites.
Once the SREB curriculum is complete, it will become public domain. If state legislators ultimately decide to embrace the material, Vinson believes it will have a direct impact on future college freshmen.
The project is part of a larger push by SREB to develop math and English curricula that will help students who graduate from high school be better prepared to succeed in first-year college courses. The undertaking is grounded in Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 45 states. Those standards dictate the skills that students should have mastered at each grade level.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare students for college and the workforce.
For more information on Vinson’s role in the project, call (865) 694-6400. To learn more about Pellissippi State in general, call 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu.