About Us

The Curriculum Research Group was founded in 2009 by Dr. Helen Burn and Dr. Gabrielle Gerhard, educational researchers and practitioners interested in improving teaching and learning in two-year colleges. Now, given the changing landscape of degrees offered in what would be traditionally considered community colleges, our work has branched out to include public two- and four-year colleges that primarily award associate’s degrees.

Our projects are related and synergistic in focusing on state and national curriculum in mathematics and quantitative methods courses for students completing associate’s degrees or applied baccalaureate (AB) degrees. Check out our blog posts or go directly to the project to read more about Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges, Introductory Statistics, Mathematics Pathways, and Teaching in Applied Baccalaureate (AB) programs. Brief descriptions are also below.

Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges
Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3) is a research project (2016-2021) focused on identifying successful mathematics practices in community colleges, through an equity-conscious lens. We study practices that promote the success of underrepresented racially minoritized students (URM) as they transition into and through mathematics courses required for degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Our final product completed in August of 2020 is an Institutional Self-Assessment Tool that contains a validated set of equity practices for URM in the STEM math pathway. With this tool, colleges can self-assess the degree to which they have implemented these practices and identify next steps to enhance their efforts. Click here for a mobile-friendly, survey version of the Tool.

The Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3) PI team consists of Helen Burn, Vilma Mesa, J. Luke Wood, Eboni Zamani-Gallaher and Soko Starobin. Other personnel include Reka Barton, Darielle Blevins, Claire Boeck, Anne Cawley, Frank Harris, III, Gabrielle Gerhard, and Chauntee Thrill. Support for this work is provided by the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program under awards 1625918, 1625387, 1625946, 1625891. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Mathematics Pathways
Mathematics pathways represent a paradigm shift in the field of postsecondary mathematics education where college algebra has traditionally been the default entry-level or general education mathematics requirement. Colleges that implement mathematics pathways offer students a choice of transferable gateway college mathematics courses aligned to their program of study.  Gateway mathematics courses include but are not limited to introductory statistics, quantitative reasoning, modeling, and precalculus or calculus. Students needing remediation have a pathway to and through developmental mathematics to ensure timely completion of the gateway mathematics course (typically within one year). Burn chairs the Pathways Joint Subcommittee of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges and was past co-chair of the Math Pathways to Completion project, a multi-state project (Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington) focused on establishing and implementing a statewide vision for math pathways. Gerhard serves as a critical friend to the MPC project.

Introductory Statistics
Increasingly, more programs of study require introductory statistics as the preferred college-level mathematics course, leading to strong enrollments in this course. There are challenges, however, in terms of finding qualified instructional staff, particularly when statistics courses are offered within a mathematics department where faculty may not have taken masters-level coursework in statistics or done in-depth statistical analysis. There are also struggles with modernizing the traditional introductory course outcomes in terms of making it data-centric and focused on statistical reasoning per the GAISE (Guidelines on Assessment and Instruction in Statistical Education) guidelines. Burn is a member of the MAA/ASA Joint Committee on Undergraduate Statistics and Data Science Education, serving as the liaison between this committee and the MAA Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics. She is also the Pacific Northwest hub leader for StatPREP, an NSF grant sponsored by the MAA.

Teaching in Applied Baccalaureate (AB) programs
Burn and Gerhard currently teach applied quantitative methods courses in AB programs at Highline College and Seattle Central College.  The state of Washington currently offers over 65 AB programs with 2000 students enrolled at over 20 colleges. In fact, 16 of the 34 colleges overseen by the SBCTC are now classified as 4-year public institutions in IPEDS. To secure accreditation, AB programs in Washington need to build on existing Associate of Applied Sciences [AAS] degrees and to articulate with at least one Master’s degree program at a regional college. Thus, AB programs are developed to meet specific workforce needs while also providing opportunities for students to pursue advanced degrees. The success of the students in these programs is a significant issue for the state and the colleges involved, as well as for the faculty, staff, and students.

Teaching in the AB is an emerging area of our research. We maintain that faculty teaching in the AB, regardless of professional-technical experience, will find differences in the new environment. For example, as the number of BAS programs grow, there will be more and more students doing their third and fourth years as undergraduates in the community college.

Teaching in the AB is an emerging area of our research. We maintain that faculty teaching in the AB, regardless of professional-technical experience, will find differences in the new environment. For example, as the number of BAS programs grow, there will be more and more students doing their third and fourth years as undergraduates in the community college.