Needed Math Project - January 2023 - Hofstra University

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It's Complicated: Help Us Shine a Light on our Questions & Trends!

During our bimonthly team meetings, we continue to revisit the questions and discuss the trends that we observed during our site visits. We hope to provide some answers to these questions by the end of our project, but we acknowledge that it may not be possible to answer them to everyone’s satisfaction. Indeed, as the manufacturing sector changes and becomes more automated, so too will the role of the technician evolve. As we have heard during some of our site visits that low-level math skills have been engineered out of tasks and into tools. In certain circumstances if a technician encounters a situation where math is needed they need to consult with a company engineer. In addition, we have learned from our site visits that especially in a tight labor market, high school graduates are very appealing to industry and employers are willing to teach them that skills needed. So we ask the questions:

• What is a technician?

• Does a technician need a two-year community college degree?

• What does a two-year community college technician do?

• How can community colleges do things better?

If you would like to add your thoughts to our mix, please click on the link below to send your responses to:

NEEDED MATH PROJECT January 2023 Thank you to all our 259 Pilot Test Takers! We have preliminary data and will continue to analyze the data until it is Survey Ready. We are sending our survey to 5,000 technicians, CC technical educators, and CC math faculty. If you are interested in being one of our 5,000 survey takers, please email: Michael Hacker@

Needed Math Advisory Board Meeting

A special thanks to all of our Advisory Board members for taking the time to learn about us and our Year 1 activities. Your advice is invaluable!

We convened a virtual meeting of our Advisory Board on Wednesday, November 16th. NM team members presented aspects of the project to date: site visits, survey development, Collaborative Working Groups, evaluation, and preliminary pilot test results. Discussion ensued about the following topics:

1) What do we mean by “math”? and

2) How to get community college educators to teach the math that technicians need?

We have found that when technicians and industrialists use the word, “math,” they use it to describe math operations, such as, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We also know when we speak to community college faculty, math, for them involves formulas to solve problems as in algebra, geometry, or trigonometry. So, we need to clarify in our discussions, what we or they are talking about when they use the word “Math.”

The project is hoping that community college teachers will be motivated to alter the way they teach math to technicians by presenting scenarios to begin the discussion of what math is needed.

Some Advisory Board members suggested that externships for math faculty at the high school and community college level would be valuable.

They felt that teachers need the background they would gain through interacting with industrialists to learn how they are using mathematics and bring back those examples to their classes. Providing teachers with these experiences will enable them (and their students) to understand the reason for teaching (and learning) math concepts. Instruction can make use of videos or simulations. Everyone agreed that we need a workforce that can analyze and solve problems. As Susan May of the Dana Center said, “We need to rethink the way students are learning. How do people learn; how do people learn to fix something? We need to think outside the box about what experiences that technicians need in postsecondary education; maybe it is more about context-based problem-solving and how they are going to get the skills they need—and how are we (collectively) going to make sure that the skills being taught are relevant.”


Director Contact Information: Michael Hacker, Ph.D.
We need to think outside the box about what experiences that technicians need in post-secondary education…
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant # 2100062. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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