student progression through STEM programs of study and into STEMrelated careers.


A useful framework for understanding two-year mathematics curriculum comes from Cullinane and Treisman (2010), who label the mathematics curriculum in the United States the “normative mathematics course sequence” (pp. 7-8), which they claim is ubiquitous to the P-20 (primary through grade 20) education system. The normative mathematics course sequence extends from basic arithmetic, to pre-algebra, algebra, and intermediate algebra on to trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, and other calculus-based courses, with a fuzzy demarcation between precollege and college-level mathematics that starts with college algebra. Geometry may be part of the sequential mathematics continuum, or it may be omitted, to the detriment of students’ advancement into calculus and calculus-based sciences such as physics. Because this framework represents the dominant schema for which mathematics is taught and for which student competence is assessed at the secondary and postsecondary levels, I use this framework as the basis for discussing the literature. Later, in my discussion of reforms of the two-year college mathematics curriculum, I again cite Cullinane and Treisman (2010) who are studying alternatives to the normative mathematics course sequence. First, however, I provide a brief historical foundation and then move to contemporary developments in two-year college mathematics.

Liberal arts and sciences courses, including mathematics courses, have been part of the two-year college curriculum since creation of junior colleges in the early 1900s. Cohen and Brawer (1982) observed that, by the time two-year colleges arrived on the U.S. higher education scene, the academic disciplines were already “codified” (p. 284) by the rest of the educational system. Junior colleges that emerged to fill the void between high schools and universities adopted the prevailing curriculum structure advocated by the mathematics discipline and were therefore caught in between the K-12 sector and the four-year college sector from the start. To this end, Cohen and Brawer observed that, “the liberal arts [courses of two-year colleges] were captives of the disciplines; the disciplines dictated the structure of the courses; [and] the courses encompassed the collegiate function” (1982, p. 285). To facilitate the acceptance of college credits at the university level, two-year colleges reproduced the curriculum as well as the pedagogical methods used by universities to which their students sought entry.

Transfer was born from these early replication efforts. A landmark

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