Curriculum Column

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Students who do poorly in mathematics in junior high school may respond by avoiding further study in a discipline that is expected to play an increasingly important role in students' career outlook. To help provide students at that level with better math instruction, the Standard Oil Company of Ohio has provided a $175,000 grant to a team of researchers at The Ohio State University.

The program being developed is aimed at "bridging the gap between arithmetic and algebra instruction," according to the university. "The grant will allow us to write the 7th- and 8th-grade materials to supplement existing mathematics instruction at this level," said Joan R. Leitzel, an associate professor of mathematics. Ms. Leitzel is directing the program with Alan Osborne, professor of education.

The researchers' proposal to develop the materials grew from the university's efforts to help poorly-prepared freshman math students. For several years, the university's mathematics department has been testing high-school juniors. Last year, when the tests were administered in about 240 Ohio high schools, the scores showed that 40 percent of the students had "essentially no skills in algebra," according to Ms. Leitzel.

The course materials will include eight instructional units--four for each grade. They are intended to supplement, rather than supplant, existing curricula.

A Madison, Wis., educational-media company has developed a new program that uses the history of science to help foster "scientific literacy" in high-school students. Entitled "Time, Space, and Spirit--12 Keys to Scientific Literacy," the program was developed in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin-Madison's history of science department.

The program consists of 12 audiovisual presentations, each focusing on one scientific concept: for example, the gene, the atom, evolution, and computers. Each unit looks at the concept in terms of time (the history of the discoveries), space (where they happened), and spirit (''the human sparks that inspired" them.)

Developed by Hawkhill Associates Inc., the program costs $79 in sound-filmstrip format and $129 in video-cassette format. For more information, write to Hawkhill Associates Inc., 125 E. Gilman St., Madison, Wis. 53703.

Responding to demands that students develop stronger backgrounds in English, the National Council of Teachers of English will expand its efforts to improve teaching and learning in the subject.

This fall, the organization's executive committee voted to establish a "Task Force on Excellence in English and the Language Arts." The panel will study current reports and initiatives for improving education, and will recommend programs and projects to support high-quality instruction. The task force will pay special attention to the question of how teachers can continue to study and renew their knowledge.--sw

Vol. 03, Issue 15

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