Success in College Tied to Mastering Mathematics in High School

December 19th, 2008 by Adam

U.S. students are making progress in learning mathematics, but too many students don’t take enough courses to master the subject, according to PSU Mathematics Professor Brian Beaudrie. Beaudrie is Plymouth State University’s Wixson Endowed Professor and his research into mathematics teaching is part of the award. Beaudrie made his presentation Dec. 17 to PSU faculty and administration. He researched national, international and state math testing data to come up with his findings.

“As a nation, we have improved in mathematics since the mid 1990s, but we still have quite a ways to go to be in the top echelon of countries in mathematics,” said Beaudrie.

Beaudrie’s focus is on improving the quality and quantity of high school mathematics courses, which he says are a key to student success in higher education.

“Research shows that a students’ ability to succeed in high school mathematics is one of the best indicators of their ability to earn a bachelor’s degree in college, regardless of their college major,” Beaudrie said. “This is the message I wanted to convey in my presentation.”

“If high school students stop taking mathematics before they graduate high school, and take only the minimum courses required and/or the lowest level math courses, they may be putting themselves at a severe disadvantage when it comes to succeeding in college and not even realize it,” Beaudrie said.

Retired PSU mathematics faculty Ed and Marilyn Wixson created the Endowed Professorship to celebrate and recognize faculty in the Department of Mathematics who are exemplary models of teaching, scholarship and service, or those that show strong promise to become excellent faculty. Both the Wixsons say they are pleased with Beaudrie’s research and message.

“I thought it was great, it was timely and thought provoking,” said Ed Wixson.

“I think it was very informative, and I think it was wonderful that people from different academic areas were exposed to this information, because there isn’t a forum to do this very often,” said Marilyn Wixson.

PSU President Sara Jayne Steen echoed the Wixsons comments.

“Brian is an extraordinary researcher and teacher and this is very important work for the future of the state and nation,” Steen said.

Beaudrie is also the director of the PSU-based New Hampshire Impact Center, which provides assistance in implementing standards-based mathematics curriculum materials that enrich and enhance the learning of science and mathematics for New Hampshire children. Beaudrie hopes his findings will prompt educators to view mathematics education in a different light.

“I am hoping that they can take this message with them and discuss it with teachers, parents of high school students, or students who may be in high school to help them understand that high school mathematics is very important,” Beaudrie said.

In photo at top, left to right, Marilyn Wixson, Ed Wixson, Brian Beaudrie, PSU President Sara Jayne Steen.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes