Towards student-ready math departments: Creating a math placement experience within an asset framed approach

PRIMUS: Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies / August 2020

As higher education institutions focus on increasing math success, it is important to consider the needs of a diverse college student population. Creating an asset framed math placement process is an initial step to improve success in math. In this article, growth mindset was used as an asset- based framework to examine how eight first-generation, low-income, students of color perceive their math placement experience. Overall these students were proud and appreciative of being a college student, while at the same time keenly aware of the pressure to do well in college. The math placement exam caused anxiety among students, was perceived as high stakes, and was viewed with a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset. Implications of these insights encourage math departments to consider alternative math placement approaches that enhance the effectiveness of the math placement experience- especially for marginalized students.