IMPACTful Thoughts: IMPACT of Pathways

By Karen Gaines posted 10-02-2020 08:02:23


POSTED ON BEHALF OF:  Ann R. Edwards and Connie Richardson

Over the last decade, mathematics pathways have proven to be an effective and lasting change to the landscape of mathematics education in higher education. Math pathways provide students with course sequences that accelerate their completion of gateway college-level mathematics and that align with their academic and career goals. In addition, and importantly, learning environments of math pathways courses should support students’ identities as math learners, inviting and engaging students in the development of skills and dispositions that serve them broadly to achieve their academic and career aspirations. This vision exemplifies the IMPACT PROWESS pillars of PRoficiency, OWnership, Engagement, and Student Success:

  • True mathematics pathways provide all students with opportunities to immediately engage with and then master rigorous, meaningful mathematics content aligned with their academic and professional aspirations. (Proficiency) 
  • Faculty, departments, and institutions employ strategies that engage students in the learning process and support students in developing their skills as learners, such as engaging in self-regulation and metacognition. (Ownership)
  • Faculty commit to providing opportunities for students to act as mathematicians in an authentic and meaningful way (e.g., through exploration and inquiry of contexts grounded in students’ experiences or goals). (Engagement)
  • Mathematics departments commit to engage in evidence-based continuous improvement of curriculum, teaching, and learning to ensure student success in rigorous, relevant mathematics and contribute to program completion. Institutions work to dismantle barriers that affect student access and opportunity for success, especially Black, Latinx, and indigenous students, and students from low-income communities. (Student Success)

The Charles A. Dana Center and the Carnegie Math Pathways at WestEd have realized this vision for mathematics pathways in our work over the last decade with colleges and universities across the country. We, together with Helen Burn of the AMATYC Pathways Committee, invite you to join us in a discussion of mathematics pathways at the National Mathematics Summit webinar on October 21st (see information below). In the webinar, we will be sharing current data about math pathways as well as taking up critical issues that we as a field still need to address, for example: understanding and leveraging the benefits of the combined effect of student access to the appropriate math pathway as well as acceleration within that pathway (e.g. corequisites); ensuring that, within a particular pathway, students have equitable access to programs that lead to a family-sustaining wage; and new developments in the work on achieving racial equity in STEM pathways.

The last pillar of IMPACT Live, Student Success, highlights the importance of departmental collaboration and professional development for promoting student success. We hope that you will take advantage of this webinar as one such opportunity. For more background and prereadings, see the resources linked below. Finally, we hope that you will also join us at future National Mathematics Summit webinars and, of course, the National Mathematics Summit on June 14 & 15, 2021, and NOSS on June 15-18, 2021, both held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Webinar Information:

Advancing Equity in Mathematics Pathways in the Era of the Pandemic

Presenters: Connie Richardson, Ann Edwards, and Helen Burn

October 21, 2020, 2:00 PM Eastern

Registration Link:


Connie Richardson, Ph.D., leads the mathematics curriculum development team for the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways. She also supports professional learning offerings related to curricular redesign, corequisite supports, and pedagogy, collaborating with faculty to identify best practices and disseminate to the field. Connie taught mathematics for 24 years in K12 and higher ed mathematics and K12 teacher preparation.

Ann R. Edwards is a Senior Research Associate and the Director of Learning and Teaching in the Carnegie Math Pathways at WestEd.  Her research interests include mathematics curriculum development, teaching, teacher learning, and professional development, particularly for teachers of underserved student populations. Recent projects include Advancing Quality Teaching (NSF TUES), focused on networked faculty professional learning at scale, and Scaling Up through Networked Improvement (NSF IUSE), which examines institutional implementation and organizational change in higher education reform. She has published in numerous journals and books including the NADE Digest, Journal of Teacher Education, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Teachers College Record, and the Handbook of Research on Learning and Instruction. She has taught secondary and collegiate mathematics and worked with teachers K-16. She has a B.A. in applied mathematics from Harvard University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in education in mathematics, science and technology.

1 comment



10-04-2020 11:54:09

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  We must all consider the best pathways for our students!  I appreciate the work that both Carnegie/West Ed and the Dana Center has done to help community college students!