The challenges of teaching remedial mathematics courses




Robitaille, Ariane

When it comes to challenges facing teachers, those dealing with remedial mathematics courses are particularly demanding. Based on her experience in the field, the author identifies three elements that could explain some of the problems encountered in teaching this course. She brings out the fact that the student’s relationship to the subject matter influences learning: anxiety, fear, frustration and helplessness, for instance. By helping students recognize these feelings, the teacher can help them create a feeling of greater confidence and understanding. The author also mentions the students’ prior knowledge, presented in the form of various houses of cards that are often very shaky. The teacher must then dwell on each house and sometimes help students to reconstruct their knowledge. The last element touched upon by the author is the preoccupations connected to completing the course on various levels. On an organizational level, the author mentions the time factor and student diversity; on an institutional level, the indirect pressure relating to academic success indicators, and on an emotional level, the author underlines the fact that teachers, aware of students’ efforts, must be responsible and detached when making professional judgements. Deploring the lack of available resources to support teachers of these remedial courses, the author reaffirms her commitment both as a pedagogue and a concerned human being.


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