I'm trying to put together some thoughts on the importance of a strong college precalculus sequence (mainly I'm thinking College Algebra, where much of my experience is) for addressing socioeconomic inequality in the United States. While I'm curious to hear the thoughts of matheducators.stackexchange, I'm mainly interested in finding published writing on the subject.
The college precalculus sequence is the gateway for many students who were under-served by their high school mathematics courses to get into a wide variety of STEM and STEM-adjacent fields. A strong college precalculus program can help lessen the negative impact of a weak high school program, and a weak college precalculus program can cut some students off from STEM almost entirely.
However, in my experience, there are a wide variety of factors that negatively impact the effectiveness of the college precalculus sequence:
Students are often encouraged to take courses at too high a level for maximum benefit
Early precalculus courses often don't come with credit
Courses try to cover a year's worth of material (in high school) in only a semester (in college)
Mathematics professors are often very far removed from the experience of someone struggling with algebra
Where can I read more about:
- The role the college precalculus sequence plays in socioeconomic feedback loops, and
- The ways college precalculus sequences fail to meet the needs of their students?