Graduates receive degrees and certificates at fall commencement

Surrounded by a throng of cheering family and friends, more than 150 graduates received associate degrees and certificates this past weekend at Lee College Fall Commencement — the first December graduation ceremony in college history.

“I can’t tell you how proud we are for what you have accomplished at Lee College,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the Class of 2014 at the start of the ceremony. “Tonight, we recognize each and every one of you. What you have done is yours to keep, and will always be yours forever. What you have done here, and what you will take from this place, will serve you the rest of your life.”

Noting that many among the graduates were the first in their families to attend college, keynote speaker Carolyn Watson, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for JPMorgan Chase, began her address by sharing a personal anecdote about her grandfather. He raised six children by himself and never finished his own schooling, but made sure each of his children received a college education, she said.

“It’s amazing how far families can advance in just one generation through education,” Watson said.

She encouraged the graduates to ask themselves three key questions as they prepared to embark on the next chapter of their lives: what do they want to be when they grow up, what can they give back to their communities, and why not me? The answers to those questions become guiding principles for a life well lived, she said.

“Growth is a choice,” Watson said. “It’s about developing a vision, then using that vision to make pro-active choices about what you want in your life. Right now, there’s someone out there who needs you. If you get involved, it’s going to chance someone’s life and make you happy at the same time.”

No one can win every race or competition they enter, but the possibility for failure should never be a reason not to try, she said. Looking back, the moments we regret most are the chances that we were too scared or afraid to take.

“Shrinking back from an opportunity or challenge doesn’t enlarge your soul,” Watson said.

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Non-credit healthcare students recognized at pinning ceremony

The next dental assistant, certified nurse aide, phlebotomist or clinical medical assistant you encounter at the local doctor’s office might just come from the latest group of students to complete non-credit healthcare programs offered through the Center for Workforce and Community Development.

The fall 2014 graduates were honored last weekend in front of their instructors, administrators, loved ones and peers at a pinning ceremony and reception held at the Performing Arts Center.

“You did it. You rose above all challenges and barriers and completed this for you and your families,” said Dr. Christy Ponce, vice president of Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development.”You’ve proven that with a little hard work, you can achieve anything. You will go on to make a difference in people’s lives, and today is your day to conquer the world.”

The non-credit healthcare programs put students on the fast track to high-wage, high-demand medical careers. In addition to classroom and laboratory training, students must also complete clinical rotations in their program before becoming a candidate for pinning.

After receiving their pins, the graduates recited a special pledge for healthcare workers and promised to uphold the highest principles while working in their new professions.

“You’re not like everybody else,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the graduates at the start of the ceremony. “What you started, you actually finished. We’re proud of you and we’re going to be seeing you as you move into your careers.”

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Student Support Services celebrates the TRiO participants in the Class of 2014

For many students, earning an associate degree or certificate can literally take blood, sweat and tears — but advice, guidance and encouragement from the TRiO staff  makes the journey just a little bit easier.

“I can remember crying while doing my homework late at night,” said Linda Montemayor, a first-generation college student and one of a dozen fall 2014 graduates honored last week at the Student Support Services Program Graduation in the Student Center. “I worked so hard and I thought about giving up, but it was all worth it. People can take a lot of things away from you, but they can never take my education.”

Each TRiO graduate received a customized plaque at the ceremony in recognition of successful completion of their chosen degree or certificate program. They also had the opportunity to award a special certificate to an instructor, staff member or loved one whose support made a difference during their time on campus.

Like many TRiO program participants, Associate Dean of Student Affairs Rosemary Coffman was the first in her family to attend college. Her parents wanted to help her succeed but didn’t really know how, she said.

“Good things can come out of the hardest of days,” Coffman said during her keynote speech at the ceremony. “I’ve learned to have faith and patience. I’ve learned humility. I’ve learned to be kind to others and myself. I’ve learned that when you push through fear, you become more and more aware that you can handle anything life throws your way.”

Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the graduates and their families that the TRiO program has a special place in the hearts of the campus community. It doesn’t matter how far students have been able to go with their education before they arrive at Lee, he said. The college is committed to helping students get from where they are, to where they really want to be.

“Be proud of yourselves and know that you couldn’t have made us any prouder,” Brown said. “Completing your college education is a major accomplishment; that degree is going to be with you the rest of your life. This is just the beginning. Whatever your next step will be, learning is always going to be there.”


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Act fast! Tickets for ‘The Nutcracker’ and Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairies nearly sold out

A limited number of tickets are still available for beloved holiday staple “The Nutcracker,” which will begin its 3-night run at the Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19.

The Bay Area Houston Ballet Company and Theatre will bring the story of young Clara and her magical Christmas toy alive on the PAC stage, accompanied by the Baytown Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the Friday show, performances are also set for 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, and 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 21.

Buy your tickets online here.

Founded in 1972 by Lynette Mason-Gregg, the BAHBT is the only professional ballet company in the Bay Area. The group produces a season each year in their performing residence at the University of Houston-Clear Lake that includes an eclectic array of ballets and musicals. BAHBT dancers — all of whom must audition for a place in the company — have been performing “The Nutcracker” for local audiences for nearly 40 years. This is the company’s third year presenting the holiday classic at Lee College.

Tea Time with the Sugar Plum Fairies

Families can create special holiday memories and even start a new Christmas tradition at “Tea Time with the Sugar Plum Fairies,” set for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Performing Arts Center. Children will have the opportunity to meet and have their photo taken with the Sugar Plum Fairy from “The Nutcracker.”

The fairy is one of the most iconic characters in the ballet, ruling over the Kingdom of Sweets and dancing one of the most well known solo performances in the show.

Buy tickets for the tea here.

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Weekly Wellness from Jason Summers

Do You Know What Barbie Would Look Like If She Was Based On Reality?

By April McCarthy

Is there a connection between barbie and a woman’s body image? Since the average American girl between the ages of three and ten owns several Barbie dolls, the effects of Barbie and body image run deeper than just a doll owned by millions of girls. There is a large and growing body of literature that shows the negative impact these toys have on developing children.

Research has for years linked women’s exposure to arbie and photos of skinny supermodels with feelings of inadequacy about their own bodies. A 2006 University of Sussex study said that Barbies and similar toys “may damage girls’ body image, which would contribute to an increased risk of disordered eating and weight cycle.”

According to two studies in Pediatrics, the media is not the only influence on the eating habits of today’s youth. Parents may play a more significant role than both the media and peers in the way young children view themselves and their bodies, researchers report.

A study of more than 6,700 children and adolescents found that both boys and girls who said that their fathers were concerned with their weight were more than twice as likely to become constant dieters compared with their peers, one year later. Boys and girls who reported that their mother was constantly dieting were also more likely to become concerned with their own weight and diet frequently, the report indicates.

The weight-related issues of parents are transmitted to their children, therefore it is important that parents remind themselves that they serve as role models and therefore should attempt to adopt the diet and activity patterns they would like their children to emulate.

That justification for Barbie’s outrageous silhouette falls flat with experts in child psychology and female body image. Those pointy feet might be easier to slip into those tight pants, “But those boobs” said Dr. Sharon Lamb, chair of University of Massachusetts Boston’s School of Psychology. “I don’t think Barbie’s breasts were designed to help Barbie’s clothes go easily on.”

And what about the accusations that Barbie’s unrealistic cinches and curves contribute to young girls’ unhealthy body image?

College student Galia Slayen made a life-size version of Barbie to highlight eating disorders. She was shocked at the result – a freakish woman with pencil-thin legs, breasts that threatened to topple her over, and a body mass index (BMI) that would put her squarely in the anorexia camp.

“If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe,” Slayen wrote in the Huffington Post. “She likely would not menstruate… she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.”

Slayen estimates Barbie would weigh 110 pounds and have a BMI of 16.24. She based her numbers on the book “Body Wars” by Dr. Margo Maine, and readily admits the doll’s head, hands and some other features are not to scale.

“The goal of Barbie is to get just get people’s attention,” Slayen told CBS News. Eating disorders are “very prevalent and not talked about. It’s sensationalized in the media every time a star loses weight, but this is a very internal struggle.”

As many as 10 million Americans are now struggling with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. A recent study found that teens are hit hard – as many as 500,000 have had an eating disorder. People with eating disorders are at high risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. The condition can lead to sudden death.

“There are so many misconceptions,” says Slayen. “Eating disorders are not a choice. They are not a thing of vanity. They are disease and they are really serious.”
6-Years Old And Younger

Nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls in a previous study by University of Central Florida psychology professor Stacey Tantleff-Dunn and doctoral student Sharon Hayes said they worry about being fat. About one-third would change a physical attribute, such as their weight or hair color.

The number of girls worried about being fat at such a young age concerns Tantleff-Dunn because of the potential implications later in life. Studies have shown that young girls worried about their body image are more likely to suffer from eating disorders when they are older.

The media’s portrayal of beauty likely is one of the strongest influences on how they perceive their bodies because children spend so much time watching movies and television, Tantleff-Dunn said.

“The genetic and environmental origins of pregnancy-associated cancers are likely to pre-date the pregnancy but the hormones and growth factors necessary for a baby to develop may accelerate the growth of a tumor,” Roberts said.

Eating disorder experts say prepubescent girls are developing eating disorders as young as 5 and 6 years old. They may be getting their obsession from parents who are preoccupied with their own body images, and media images of skinny pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, the experts say.

The way we experience the internal state of our body also influences how we perceive our body from the outside, as for example in the mirror, and it may be the biggest predictor of our health.

Children learn (unhealthy) mainstream attitudes towards food and weight at a very young age. The number of children younger than 12 entering the hospital for eating disorders increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2006.

Researchers have shown in the past that women and teens think of themselves in sexually objectified terms, but a new study is the first to identify self-sexualization in young girls. The study, published online July 6 in the journal Sex Roles, also identified factors that protect girls from objectifying themselves.

An entire generation of young girls is being psychologically damaged by the onslaught of marketing tactics surrounding inappropriate “sexy” children’s fashions, toys, music, books and sexualized images in the media, and parents should be very concerned.

A controversial clothing company drew fire from parents after it began marketing padded bikini tops in its latest swimsuit line at abercrombie kids, the company’s shop for boys and girls.

The current generation of young girls and boys are being psychologically damaged by the onslaught of inappropriate “sexy” children’s fashions, toys, music, books and sexualized images in the media. It should be an issue of great concern for all parents.

Sexualizing children is not funny and it’s not a joke, and if parents don’t start paying attention to what the American Psychological Association(APA) report found to be the growing trend to sexualize young girls and boys through video games, television shows, movies, music videos, song lyrics, magazines, clothing styles and toys, you’ll find yourself scratching your head wondering what happened to your little prince or princess well before they reach the teen years.

Disturbing facts on body image and eating disorders

A study showed that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day. (Source:

Only 5% of women naturally have the body type advertisements portray as ideal. (Source:

Of 5th to 12th grade girls surveyed: 47% reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures. 69% said that magazine pictures influenced their idea of what the “picture body” looks like. (

The dieting industry generates at least $55.4 billion in revenue every year. (Source:

In a survey of girls aged approximately 14-18: More than 59% of girls were trying to lose weight. In the last 30 days before the survey, over 18% of girls had starved themselves for a day or more to lose weight. 11.3% of girls surveyed had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight (Source:

One study found that elite athletes experienced much higher rates of eating disorders (20%) than did a female control group (9%). Female athletes in ‘aesthetic sports’ (i.e. gymnastics, ballet, figure skating) have the highest risk for developing eating disorders (Source:

41% of first to third-grade girls want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat. 80% of 10-year-old American girls say they have been on a diet. The number one magic wish for young girls age 11-17 is to be thinner. (Source:

As many as 24 million people suffer from an eating disorder — including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder — in the U.S. alone. (

91% of undergraduate women surveyed admitted that they diet. 22% dieted “often” or “always”. (Source:

42% of 1st-3rd grade girls wish they were thinner. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. (Source:

50% of commercials directed towards women mention physical attractiveness. The average adolescent views over 5,000 advertisements that mention attractiveness annually. (Source:

McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.

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First-ever Fall Commencement ceremony set for Friday at Sports Arena

Approximately 100 students will receive associate degrees and certificates this Friday, Dec. 12, at the Lee College Fall 2014 Commencement, which will feature Carolyn Watson of JPMorgan Chase as keynote speaker.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. in the Sports Arena.

As Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, Watson manages JPMorgan Chase philanthropic investments and sponsorships in the Houston and San Antonio areas. Under her leadership, the company has developed a $5 million, 5-year workforce investment strategy to address the high demand for middle-skill workers in the booming Houston petrochemical and industrial/commercial construction sectors. In 2014, the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized JPMorgan Chase as its “Large Outstanding Corporation of the Year” for its innovative approach to philanthropy.

A native Houstonian, Watson has held positions in non-profit organizations, government and business for nearly 20 years and worked with colleagues and clients on an international level. She is an active community volunteer, particularly with youth, and was named a “Woman on the Move” by the Texas Executive Women in recognition of her personal and civic achievements. Watson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Louisiana State University, a Master of Public Affairs degree from the University of Texas and a Master of Science degree in management from Stanford University.

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Crowds gather at McNair Center to celebrate expansion groundbreaking

Nearly 200 community members, education and business leaders and other supporters of Lee College joined Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown and the Board of Regents last week to officially break ground on the expanded McNair Center, soon to be a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot facility for technical and industrial training.

Located along Interstate 10 and easily accessible from all points of the Lee College service area, the new McNair Center will house existing programs in machining, millwrighting, pipefitting and welding. Students will get hands-on experience with the latest technology and tools of the trade, preparing them for thousands of open positions in the booming petrochemical and construction sectors.

“We don’t talk about jobs any more. These are lifetime careers,” Brown told attendees at the groundbreaking, held Wednesday, Dec. 3, at the center.

He noted the overwhelming support the expansion plan has garnered from local school districts, industry partners like Bayer, Chevron Phillips Chemical and ExxonMobil, and neighbors in the McNair area and beyond. The $12 million construction project is being funded through a bond issue approved by 72 percent of all district voters in 2013.

“This is what is needed in our community, and it is you that have allowed us the opportunity to provide this brand new facility,” Brown said. “These students are going to have the opportunity to acquire national certifications and become fully employable. Without you, we wouldn’t be here today.”

The McNair Center first opened in 2008 and is now home to cosmetology and fast-track healthcare courses. After quickly outgrowing its early space and undergoing a significant renovation that was finished in 2011, the current construction project is slated for completion in fall 2015.

“Lee College is as good at technical training as anyone in the country,” said Layton Childress, dean of Applied Sciences. “A new facility like this will only enhance that. Students and industry will both greatly benefit.”

For Judge Don Coffey, the longest serving member of the Board of Regents and chairman of the Building Committee, putting golden shovels into the dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony represented the fulfillment of the college’s commitment to its students and the residents of McNair, which has historically been an African-American enclave in eastern Harris County.

“I am so excited that we are able to do this,” Coffey said. “The McNair Center is well-positioned and this expansion truly made sense for what we, as a college, intend to do for this community.”

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Project Leeway graduates prepare to move into spring semester

The more low-wage jobs Kelsey Voss worked to support herself and her then-unborn son, the more depressed she became and the less confident she felt about her future — then she found the Project Leeway program at Lee College.

“I thank Jesus for leading me here at just the right time,” Voss told her peers, instructors and administrators at the Project Leeway Luncheon and Awards Ceremony, held Thursday, Dec. 4, in the Student Center Gameroom to recognize the 14 graduates who completed the program this fall and will begin working on their chosen degree and certificate tracks in January.

“It was a miracle — I felt so blessed to even be provided with school supplies on my first day,” said Voss, whose son is now 8 months old. “I have hope again.”

Funded through a federal grant, Project Leeway assists low-income adults in pursuing a college education by providing help with the cost of tuition, textbooks, childcare and transportation, among other resources.

After applying and being accepted into the program, students complete a 5-week session where they earn college credit while refreshing their reading, writing, math, social and study skills. They also explore nearly 2 dozen technical career fields they can pursue through programs the college offers, and end the session registered and fully prepared for the next semester of classes.

For Marsha Tuha, arriving at Project Leeway was one of the biggest moments of her life. Now a senior program manager at the Center for Workforce and Community Development on campus, Tuha enrolled in Project Leeway in 1998 as a divorced single mother of three who had recently moved her family from Amarillo to Baytown in search of a better life.

“I didn’t know it I was going to make it, but I had the determination,” Tuha said in an emotional keynote speech at the Project Leeway luncheon. “I just had to — I had three little boys that needed me. We all have 24 hours in a day, but it’s what you do with your 24 that matters. I worked really hard and was one of the top graduates of our class. Don’t give up. You can do this.”

Lee College Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the students that one day, they would look back on their completion of Project Leeway and appreciate what an important step they made toward a bright and happy future.

“This step may seem small, but years from now you’ll realize how big this accomplishment really was,” Brown said. “Today is a significant milestone, and it’s just the beginning. You could have not made us any prouder.”

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Theatre Department hosting auditions today and tomorrow for ‘Rocket Girl’

The Lee College Theatre Department will hold open auditions Monday, Dec. 8, and Tuesday, Dec. 9, for the first play of the spring semester — and members of the campus community are encouraged to try out for a role.

Auditions will begin at 7 p.m. at the Melva Johnson Black Box Theatre inside the Performing Arts Center on campus. No specific preparations or special scenes will be required, and up to 20 male and female actors are needed for the show.

“Rocket Girl” tells the story of Mary Sherman Morgan, the first female rocket scientist in the United States and the only woman among 900 engineers working for North American Aviation in the 1950s. Morgan is credited with developing Hydyne, the fuel used by Explorer 1 — America’s first successful rocket, launched in 1957.

The play is written by Morgan’s son, George, and pulls back the curtain on the tensions and drama surrounding the United States and former Soviet Union as both countries raced to be the first to launch a rocket into orbit around the Earth. When the Russians successfully launched Sputnik, the American government felt incredible pressure to develop its own rocket technology.

Performances of “Rocket Girl” are set for Feb. 20-22, Feb. 27-28 and March 1 and 5. The production is being presented in support of the March meeting of the Texas section of the American Association of Physics Teachers, which will be hosted by Lee College under the leadership of instructor Tom O’Kuma.

For more information about the auditions, contact Kim Martin, technical theatre instructor, at

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This Week in Innovation – Reshaping math courses to help students achieve

Redesigning Mathematics for Student Success

By Barbara Lontz, assistant professor

Recently I asked first-level developmental math students to locate cantoseven-eighths on the number line. Sixty percent of the class located it between seven and eight. On another occasion, I asked the class if someone would come to the board and plot nine-elevenths on a number line. Only one person was able to guess its location. Unfortunately, these scenarios are not uncommon to many mathematics teachers. Students who place into first-level developmental math are lacking the ability to make sequential connections. By continuing to teach mathematics through the traditional sequence of topics, instructors do not address this barrier, and it can prevent students from moving forward. Sometimes sitting in front of a computer doing practice problems with a calculator may lead to immediate positive results. However, these methods do not provide the opportunity for students to understand what is being done and why. If you are curious about your students’ knowledge, ask them any of the following questions:

  • When we are subtracting numbers and need to borrow, why do we cross out a number, make it a ten, cross out another number, and make it a nine?
  • Why do we count decimal places when we multiply decimal numbers?
  • Why do we find common denominators when we add fractions?
  • Why do we move decimal points when we divide by a decimal?

Students who answer these questions incorrectly are part of the increasing number of students placed into the first level of developmental math. It is my belief that learning and retaining information should include understanding why, as well as how, to solve the problem.

Course Redesign
Concepts of Numbers for Arithmetic and Prealgebra was developed in 2008 to provide an alternative approach to teaching mathematics. The goal of the course is toaddress the challenges of students referred to mathematics in two ways. First, it presents course content thematically rather than topically. For example, fractions, decimals, signed numbers, and algebraic expressions appear together in almost every chapter of the course text, reinforcing their relationship to one another. This reordering is designed to help students make connections across ideas that may have previously seemed unrelated. Second, it employs a discovery-based pedagogy that openly builds on students’ prior knowledge, allowing them to clarify concepts they did not understand in the past. Combined, these two components aim to increase students’ confidence and foster a new-found appreciation of how numbers work.

The Concepts Curriculum
The course is comprised of eight units covering the material typically taught in a mathematics/pre-algebra course. These units include: History of Math, The Real Number System, Comparisons, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Combinations. Students feel demoralized when placed into mathematics because they assume it will begin with traditional mathematics topics and instructional methods. However, the first unit focuses on the history of math, including information on African, Egyptian, Roman, and Babylonian number systems, which demonstrates how our present numeration system evolved from the ideas of many cultures and nations. This unit creates a positive tone in the class and promotes a different understanding of the nature of mathematics.

In the second unit, students investigate all real numbers. By locating various types of numbers on the number line and classifying them as whole numbers, integers, rational, and irrational, students begin to realize the relationships between different types of numbers. For example, they begin to see that fractions are no different from decimals, which helps to dispel the myth of, “I can’t do fractions.” These opening units provide a foundation for the mathematics topics covered in a traditional course, but are rearranged within these conceptual units. The course ends with a combination unit that deals with multiple-step problems, synthesizing many of the skills learned in the course.

Once the history of math has been presented, discovery becomes the main teaching tool. Instead of the traditional teaching approach, Concepts asks students to solve problems by drawing on previous mathematical experiences and knowledge before a rule is given. Although adult students referred to arithmetic have holes in their mathematical knowledge, most have been exposed to the course content in their previous educational experiences. When the teacher facilitates discussion among students through the discovery approach, that prior knowledge emerges.

Under this model, instructors encourage students to experiment with shortcuts, memory aids, and formula application. A calculator is a tool to be used only when the calculations become cumbersome, which is rare. Instructors listen to students’ discussions in class in order to answer the important question—do they understand? If they don’t, then the teacher must tailor class discussions to fill in the blanks and bridge any gaps that remain. Concepts involves students in the learning process by asking questions, giving students time to ponder, and allowing wrong answers to be considered. Students take ownership for what they are discovering and become active participants in their education.

Course Support
The Concepts of Numbers for Arithmetic and Prealgebra textbook, published by Pearson Learning Solutions, has a number of features to facilitate this approach to teaching and learning. For example, the text has minimal narrative and explanation to facilitate the teacher’s use of the discovery approach. Having less prescription allows the lesson to evolve according to the needs and knowledge of the students in the class. The number of homework problems is radically reduced as compared to a traditional textbook. Homework problems are intended to help students assess their own understandings, not to drill procedures. Faculty that use Concepts report an increase in completed assignments and attendance compared to students in traditional mathematics courses. They attribute this change in students’ academic behavior partially to the smaller homework sets and the need to be present as lessons evolve. For students or instructors who believe that additional practice is needed, supplemental problems are available in the workbook format and via an online resource aligned with the text.

Moving from Pilot to Scale
Over the span of four years, Concepts has gone from a single section pilot to the only mathematics course offered at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC). Positive pass rates during the pilot in 2008 prompted the math department to add 20 sections in 2010. In 2011, the department voted to replace the traditional mathematics/pre-algebra course with Concepts.

Data Table

MAT010 Concepts of Numbers versus MAT010 Traditional Course
Spring 2009 Fall
Spring 2010 Fall
Spring 2012 Fall
Spring 2013 Fall 2013
Concepts of Numbers 74% N=19 63%
 Traditional Mathematics 45%

* The top 13% of Mathematics Accuplacer scorers were accelerated into the next course (a 4 credit beginning algebra class)
** An additional top 12% of Mathematics Accuplacer scorers were accelerated into the next course (a 4 credit beginning algebra class)

The Aftermath
Concepts course pass rates indicate that this new curricular and pedagogical approach has been effective for many students referred to the lowest level of developmental mathematics at MCCC. In 2011, the college was awarded a two-year William and Flora Foundation grant through the Community College Research Center to replicate the course at two colleges. It is presently being taught at Reading Area Community College (PA) and Berkshire Community College (MA). Ten other colleges in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, and Alaska are using Concepts, rangingfrom a pilot phase to full-scale implementation.

Lessons Learned
As Concepts expanded, the orientation of new faculty was critical to implementing the curriculum as designed. The course’s reorganization of subject matter and the change in teaching methods required faculty to move away from a lecture-drill-practice approach. Changing from a lecture-based mode of instruction to a discovery/facilitation format requires time, practice, and support. Replicating colleges have reported success with faculty orientations and continuing professional development sessions.

It is an exciting time to be a developmental math educator. The field is currently flooded with practitioners and researchers trying to find answers to the math barrier that impedes degree completion and transfer goals of so many community college students. Concepts represents a tiny piece of the puzzle within the developmental math sequence that has worked for MCCC and our replicating partners. It has equipped students with a basic understanding of numbers and a new confidence to continue their academic paths. Institutions must examine multiple factors, including data collection and long-range goals, to determine whether Concepts is a good fit for their campus.

Lontz is an assistant professor of mathematics at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania. She can be reached via email at

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