College & Dyscalculia‎ > ‎CDSP Course‎ > ‎Problem‎ > ‎

Ethics

Isn't it unethical and fraudulent to require remedial students to take courses for which they are unprepared to succeed? Isn't it akin to extortion to require them to retake the course they failed, in other words, isn't it crazy to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result? Universities are blindly enrolling students in remedial courses without the necessary programming in place to insure student success if they exert the expected effort. 

Some MLD students accumulate large debts to attempt and repeat math courses that never count for college credit. (The average 3-credit college algebra course costs $1,000, so two to four attempts amounts to $2,000 to $4,000 spent on a subject without successful acquisition of skills the courses purport to impart.)  Schools are enrolling students in remedial math courses, unsympathetic to the under-prepared pupils lacking the basic skills necessary to keep up with the pace of a college math course. 

The university must take responsibility for the failure of these students. It accepts money with the expectation that skills are acquired with time served. Teaching well-prepared content in an inaccessible format results in student failure, no fault of the student or the instructor. 

Care should be taken to analyze course delivery. Can the students access the course content in the format in which it is delivered? If students got twelve years of exposure to approved curricula delivered in traditional formats in small groups by highly qualified teachers, yet were not successful in acquiring the desired skills; it is irrational to expect these same students to suddenly master these skills in a large lecture format at a faster pace.

Review of an MLD student's record shows a history of deficient math achievement, a failure to acquire skills commensurate with instruction, age and grade. We know that new learning occurs when concepts are related and connected in multiple ways to existing knowledge and skills so that the information can  be manipulated in order to solve problems. In the case of students exhibiting severe memory and skill deficiencies, future instruction is limited by the neural connections that exist, and those connections are in danger of pruning (self-destruction) because they are not frequently activated to solve relevant problems. 

If school aims to continuously activate those circuits, with circular instruction that reviews prior concepts before introducing new ones, why are these connections weak in some students? In a wholly natural process, the brain destroys inactive circuits. Circuits not well connected to other circuits  and not manipulated regularly experience a natural death; thus weak conceptual knowledge of math facts and processes becomes even weaker because it is not activated and reactivated in meaningful ways often enough to nourish the cells and maintain them so they are available for new connections (new instruction). 

For this reason, it can be argued that MLD students regress during school breaks, because their neural connections are weaker and unused, are pared sooner than their peers', leaving them with inadequate foundational memory and skills to build upon.