Internationalizing college algebra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Few undergraduate classes match the potential of college algebra to internationalize the university experience. The complexity and variability of the world’s most pressing issues—of health outcomes, income, access to education, access to clean water— mean that a great deal of influential information is conveyed mathematically, usually as tables of values and graphs. Young adults who wish to become informed and active participants in global issues must learn to understand and interpret international perspectives through mathematics. At a time when postsecondary institutions are reevaluating undergraduate mathematics pedagogy, internationalization can help revitalize the curriculum. College algebra in the United States is widely recognized as a troubled class. Students often experience extremely high failure and withdrawal rates, compelling them to retake that class multiple times (Small, 2006). In many states, college algebra and related pre-calculus courses disadvantage low-income students and students of color (Complete College America, 2012). Among the many reasons for the poor success rate of the class is its misalignment with student goals. In terms of typical course content, algebra has traditionally sought to prepare students for calculus and for math-intensive majors. However, in the United States, the class also became a standard general education requirement that students complete as part of their liberal education. As a result, college algebra is one of the most highly enrolled classes in the undergraduate curriculum in the United States, but only a minority of college algebra students follow the assumed pathway into STEM careers. The majority of college algebra students take the class as part of a social science or allied health science general education requirement (Herriot & Dunbar, 2009).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternationalizing Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Collaborations across the Curriculum
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789462099807
ISBN (Print)9789462099791
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


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