A Case for Automatic Recall

By Sherry Mantyka.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 19, 2014 $US5.00

Memorial University is not unique in the problems it has with the mathematics skill levels of incoming high school graduates. It is unique in the method it has developed for successfully addressing the problem. In 1988, a province-wide initiative was launched to collect data on the mathematics skill levels of all students entering post-secondary programs which required mathematics. The results were shocking. The data showed that more than 75% of the high school graduates who met the admission requirements to these institutions were functioning at a grade 10 level or below in mathematics. The Department of Mathematics and Statistics decided to address the issue in a serious manner. Dr. Sherry Mantyka (May) volunteered to lead a small group of individuals within the Department who would be dedicated to this task. This group worked in cooperation with the Provincial Government’s Department of Education and the Province’s Professional Association of Teachers. A program was developed to upgrade basic skills to the required level. This program was designed based on certain foundational principles from cognitive and intervention psychology. The data which has been collected to evaluate the success of the program in preparing the learner for post-secondary courses is impressive. In this paper we present data documenting the success of the program over three decades and include information about collaborations for adaptations of our program being implemented in other educational settings.

Keywords: Automaticity, Cognitive Psychology, Intervention Psychology, Mathematics, Modes of Instruction, Remedial Mathematics

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.39-51. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 19, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.125MB)).

Dr. Sherry Mantyka

Director, Mathematics Learning Centre, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

My work was recently featured in the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest national newspaper. "Meet The Innovators: There is much debate about how to change Canada’s postsecondary education system so that today’s graduating class is better equipped for a dramatically changing economy. While the debate is ongoing, individual innovators are making the changes they say are much needed. From making a degree relevant, to changing the way students are taught. . .. These are the people making a difference. Innovator profile: Sherry Mantyka witnessed too many students entering university without basic arithmetic skills. They passed high-school math, and had strong enough grades to earn a place in university, yet much was missing in their math skills. Dr. Mantyka is Director of the Mathematics Learning Centre, Memorial University, where her remedial math program, dubbed an ‘intervention program,’ employs a psychological element. Dr. Mantyka, in consultation with cognitive psychologists, designs teaching paradigms consistent with brain behaviour to develop better learning behaviours. Students who pass her remedial program do better not only in their math courses, but their language courses as well. Further, their graduation rate from university is 240 percent better than those who don't complete her program."