Instructor training materials were created to increase instructor understanding of how mathematical skills develop, as well as the cognitive barriers to achieving success in the study of algebra. The training presents a variety of research-based instructional strategies that address the areas of weakness in student performance. The training also provides an overview of self-advocacy and self-regulation theories and their role in promoting student success. The last section of the training guide is dedicated to presenting the Learning Resources – how they were developed, an explanation of their features, and some suggestions for integrating the LRs into a developmental algebra curriculum.
Hopefully, instructors will come away with a multi-layered understanding of why students struggle, some instructional tools to address their struggles, and some motivational tools to build students’ interest and desire to continue their study of math.
Students struggle in algebra for a variety of reasons:
- Algebraic concepts are abstract, which poses difficulty for students who have not fully internalized more foundational arithmetic concepts such as base 10.
- Algebra is relational; concepts are related to other concepts and their complexity increases cumulatively.
- Understanding the language of algebra requires learning new terms, principles, and rules.
Students who have difficulty reading, maintaining focus, or remembering new information face barriers to successful learning outcomes. In order to support students who struggle with learning algebra, instructors require an understanding of those barriers, as well as the tools to break down those barriers.