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University of Hawaii and Singapore to Collaborate on Algebra Curriculum

Based on a press release from the University of Hawai'i

Singapore's eighth-grade students achieved the highest scores on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) conducted in 1995 and1999. TIMSS is the largest international study of student achievement ever undertaken and measures students' achievement in mathematics and science. In the 1999 study, the United States ranked nineteenth out of the 38 countries that participated. The outstanding performance by Singapore's students in TIMSS has generated a growing export of Singapore's mathematics textbooks, which are sought by some U.S. educators seeking to duplicate Singapore's success.

Yet Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore announced an agreement to collaborate with the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) of the University of Hawaii to develop an introductory engineering mathematics course for Ngee Ann students based on a Standards-based curriculum developed at CRDG, Algebra I: A Process Approach. Ngee Ann selected the program because it uses problem-solving and communication strategies--reading, writing, speaking, critical listening, and multiple representations--features that they believe lead to students' deeper understanding of mathematics.

Though she was initially surprised by the request, Barb Dougherty of CRDG said, "On thinking about it, our Algebra I program is a natural fit with the way math is taught in Singapore. Like us, they use increasingly complex word problems to teach students problem-solving skills, encouraging students to find different ways to solve and express problems, not simply memorize formulas taught by a teacher."

Last September, the U.S. Department of Education and the Singapore government signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to cooperate to improve math and science education. The two countries will compare their math and science curricula, share effective practices in teacher preparation and professional development, and seek ways to raise students' achievement in the subjects. The CRDG -Ngee Ann Polytechnic collaboration is believed to be the first co-authoring partnership of its kind to be announced since the agreement was signed.

Based on a University of Hawai'i press release, April 28, 2003. For more information, contact Dr. Barbara Dougherty, Project Director, Curriculum Research & Development Group, University of Hawai'i, (808) 956-4990 or via e-mail: [email protected]

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