The DCMP Model

The Dana Center Mathematics Pathways Model

Institutions implement structural and policy changes quickly and at scale.

Mathematics pathways are structured so that:

  • Principle 1: All students, regardless of college readiness, enter directly into mathematics pathways aligned to their programs of study.
  • Principle 2: Students complete their first college-level mathematics requirement in their first year of college.

Institutions and departments engage in a deliberate and thoughtful process of continuous improvement to ensure high-quality, effective instruction.

Students engage in a high-quality learning experience in mathematics pathways that are designed so that:

  • Principle 3: Strategies to support students as learners are integrated into courses and are aligned across the institution.
  • Principle 4: Instruction incorporates evidence-based curriculum and pedagogy.

See details about each principle below.

A Deeper Look at the Model
All students, regardless of college readiness, enter directly into mathematics pathways aligned to their programs of study.

Principle 1 requires collaboration between disciplines and between faculty and student support services both within and across institutions:

  • States and institutions identify a small number of math pathways to fit the needs of students in various programs. At the state level, the gateway course in each pathway is defined by learning outcomes created by faculty leaders informed by research, recommendations from professional associations and other leaders and practices in other states.
  • Institutions make unambiguous recommendations for the preferred or default mathematics pathway for categories of programs of study or meta-majors. For example, Quantitative Reasoning might be the default pathway for all liberal arts majors.
  • The process of selecting the appropriate mathematics pathway is supported by an advising experience that helps students make informed decisions about their career and life goals.
  • Supports for students who are not college ready are aligned with the gateway math course.
  • Faculty and administrators engage in cross-institutional efforts with transfer partners to establish consistent and predictable math requirements.
Students complete their first college-level mathematics requirement in their first year of college.

Principle 2 requires institutional policy and course structures that serve all populations of students:

  • All students, regardless of college readiness, are required to take math within their first two semesters.
  • All mathematics pathways that span more than one term use strategies to minimize attrition between terms.
  • Most students who are not college ready enter directly into college-level courses with adequate supports. Institutions use data to identify students who need additional support, such as a yearlong pathway.
Strategies to support students as learners are integrated into courses and are aligned across the institution.

Principle 3 addresses practice within courses and across the institution:

  • Activities, materials, and pedagogy that help students develop the skills, attitudes, and beliefs necessary to be successful, independent learners enhance mathematics instruction in all courses, especially entry-level courses.
  • These strategies build upon and align with other institutional student support programs so that students receive consistent and coherent supports across their entire college experience.
  • Faculty and student support staff have joint “ownership” of the student success agenda. Institutional structures and processes encourage and enhance collaboration.
Instruction incorporates evidence-based curriculum and pedagogy.

Principle 4 focuses on the internal work of the mathematics department:

  • Mathematics faculty set internal standards for instructional practice.
  • Mathematics chairs and other leaders establish a culture of continuous improvement in which faculty feel safe to debate, critique, and ask for support for improving instructional practice.
  • The mathematics department establishes respectful supports and professional learning opportunities to help faculty meet the standards for instructional practice.
  • The Dana Center advocates for instructional practices and curriculum design that allow students to actively engage with challenging mathematical problem solving with supports to help students develop persistence and skills over time. Further, students should develop communication skills and have opportunities to build relationships with peers and faculty.