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Economic Education Talk: Irene Foster

Friday, September 20, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, G64
232 East Ave, Central Campus

Irene Foster - George Washington University

I am Not a Math Person: An Evidence-based Approach to Preparing our Weakest Students for Success in Large Introductory STEM Courses

Abstract: Faculty who teach large, required STEM courses face a common challenge: students who are unprepared in terms of foundational math and who lack the necessary study skills for college. Drawing from data collected over several years in large Principles of Economics courses at the George Washington University, we present a range of strategies to address this challenge, paying particular attention to the needs of underrepresented students. GW has implemented a multi-level formative math assessment and an innovative new “principles of mathematics for economics” class. With a focus on numeracy, this course uses real-world subject-related examples and occasional growth mindset interventions to motivate students. Rather than “remediation”, we reframe the course as a pathway to success and as an opportunity to put the brakes on instead of barreling through coursework unprepared. We describe the use of undergraduate learning assistants to help create an active learning environment in the classroom. Underlying all of these efforts is the collection of assessment data throughout the semester to identify and target topics where students are weak in order to encourage mastery on an ongoing basis. Finally, we present data on summative assessment – have we indeed helped our weaker students to overcome key barriers to success?

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Event Type





economics, EconCommunity, EconSeminar, CDER



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Joelle Shadle


Irene Foster

Speaker Affiliation

George Washington University

Open To

The Cornell Community