March 25

We had participants from West Valley College (Gretchen Ehlers), Cabrillo College (Joel Pickering, Mark DeSmet, and Paula Reuschling), Merritt College (Jason Holloway), College of San Mateo (Michael Hoffman), and Laney College (Christine Will and Kathy Williamson).

A few colleges have tried restructuring their Algebra Sequence, either by reducing overlap between the 2 courses, by accelerating the 2 courses by offering them back to back in a single semester, or both.

At Berkeley City College, in the PACE program (returning adults), Michael Hoffman tried using a combined Elementary/Intermediate Algebra textbook, as it is cheaper and has online homework (MyMathLab): "Elementary and Intermediate Algebra: Functions & Authentic Applications" Jay Lehmann.  Elem:  linear functions, systems, basic exponents and polynomials, Inter:  Quadratics, Exponentials, Radicals, Rationals.  He felt that he had high success with this model.  The courses met once a week.

At Cabrillo College, an accelerated, 1 semester course was offered a few years ago.  Only one section was offered, but it was cut eventually due to budget cuts and low enrollment.  They utilized a combined book.  Still unclear:  Was the format 10 units (5 elementary and 5 intermediate algebra), or reduced units (5/6 units)?  It was successful for some students and not for others.  Initial interest was high, but dwindled.

At City College of San Francisco, they are currently trying out the 1 semester, 10 unit, accelerated Elementary/Intermediate Algebra sequence, where students meet 2 hours a day, daily, M-F.

At Laney College, Kathy Williamson is interested in trying to implement the accelerated 1 semester model, while Christine Will is interested in implementing the 2 semester model, probably in a learning community environment.

Other colleges want to stay abreast of what is going on, and possibly try to implement something at a later date.


March 18:

Agenda for Restructuring the Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra Course Outlines


Christine Will, Laney College

Friday, March 18, 2011,



> Dial your telephone conference line: (888) 886-3951
> Enter your passcode: 156722
> Go to
> Click the Participant Log In button under the Meet & Confer logo
> Locate your meeting - Bay Area Collaboration on Restructuring Algebra- and click Go.
> Fill out the form and enter the password: 156722


Prior to the meeting:

  • Please try to have a copy of your Elementary and Intermediate Algebra course outlines available at the CCCConfer meeting.
  • Please read Looking to the rest of the world, by the Hechinger Report:

"While American public education is known for the breadth of its curriculum, other nations focus on fewer topics, allowing students time to delve more deeply and get a better grasp of concepts."


Expected Outcomes:

We would like to discuss in a Bay Area-wide discipline setting the amount of content, the overlap between classes, and the prerequisites as currently stated in our course outlines.  The format will be a workshop format in which we look at current course outlines, textbooks, and prerequisites, discuss what changes are beneficial and, eventually, have course outlines reflect the changes.  Articulation agreements as well as the Fall 2009 AA requirement of Intermediate Algebra will have to be considered.



  • Name
  • College
  • Current issues at your college/reason for interest

E.g. at Laney College, there is a very high level of overlap between the courses and the course outlines (close to 75%!).  Also, Intermediate Algebra seems crammed full of material, and it is rarely possible to cover it all AND repeat most of Elementary Algebra.



  • Which textbooks are currently being used on the different campuses for Elementary and Intermediate?
  • Among those who have taught the courses, do you feel like there is sufficient time to cover the material on the course outline?  Do you usually cover the topics listed on the course outline?
  • Among those who have taught either course, discuss the benefits and drawbacks of reducing the amount of overlap between the courses.
  • Does anyone have any alternative solutions to the problems posed above?


Possible Restructured Models

Sequential Learning Model (in contrast to the Spiral Learning Model):

E.g. in Peralta Community College District, we have discussed, via a face to face Teaching Community some time ago, the possibility of taking a single combined textbook for the 2 courses and splitting it between the courses, so that fewer topics are covered in each course, with less repetition, but in more depth.  All topics from the course outlines would still be covered. 


This approach is currently being tried out at Holy Names College.  "This semester we are trying to switch to a model where the course material for elementary and intermediate is basically split in half for the two semesters.  The textbook is a special edition for Holy Names by Barrato and Bergman." -Marilyn Green, Merritt College, Holy Names College

  • Other models?


Possible accelerated models:

  • Both courses in a single semester. Definitely a push in several districts to get persistence levels up to 100% by combining courses into one semester. I've heard students complain that they only have math to take, but that it would take several semesters...this could solve that problem for those students, as well!
  • Other accelerated models?

 Feasibility of such models (i.e. Articulation, Prerequisites, etc.):

E.g. in Peralta Community College District, would such a structure cause problems with Articulation and for students in traditional Elementary and Intermediate Algebra courses?  How do we deal with prerequisites?

Both courses are nontransferable, but are necessary prerequisites for several transferable courses.  According to the Laney College articulation officer, Laura Bollentino,


"The changes wouldn't affect articulation at all since these courses are non-transferable.


For courses with a prereq of Math 203 [Intermediate Algebra] (Math 13, 15 etc.), the math dept would want to look at Math 203 exit skills/content review and make sure they are sufficient enough for students to enter these particular courses, i.e., courses that have Math 203 as its prereq. That's how prereqs are validated with dept review that are sequential and are non-transferable, Laney's Curriculum Handbook, pg. 21."


Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Non-profit Tax ID # 203478467