Montana Tribal Colleges Reform College Algebra

Feb 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-3: Indigenizing Education, Tribal College News

HANDS ON. Chief Dull Knife College students use algebra to figure out the height of one of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe’s historic sites, Young Mule/Head Chief Hill.

College algebra has been a focus of reform efforts at colleges nationwide. Four Montana colleges have initiated their own reform thanks to a National Science Foundation grant and the guidance of a mathematics professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Don Small.

Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Stone Child College in Box Elder, and Fort Peck Community College in Poplar are benefiting from the experience of Small, who has been active in college algebra reform in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities for over 5 years.

Instructors focus upon hands-on learning and serve more as facilitators instead of their conventional role as lecturers. They incorporate modeling, group learning, elementary data analysis, and student projects into the course. Technology in the classroom includes the extensive use of graphing calculators and computer-run programs.

At Chief Dull Knife College, for example, instructor Russ Lundgren has his students compute the height of a hill behind the campus that has historical significance to the Northern Cheyenne people. The students use transits, tripods, and measuring tape.

The algebra reform work has been shared through poster presentations at the National Joint Mathematics Meetings, the 2004 American Indian Higher Education Consortium conference in Billings, and at conferences of the American Association of 2-Year Colleges.

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