New Directions in Two-Year College Mathematics
by Donald J. Albers ix INTRODUCTION In July of 1984 the first national conference on mathematics education in two-year colleges was held at Menlo College. The conference was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Two-year colleges account for more than one-third of all undergraduate enrollments in mathematics, and more than one-half of all college freshmen are enrolled in two-year colleges. These two facts alone suggest the importance of mathematics education in two-year colleges, particularly to secondary schools, four-year colleges, and universities. For a variety of reasons, four-year colleges and universities are relatively unaware of two-year colleges. Arthur Cohen, who was a participant at the "New Directions" conference warns: "Four-year colleges and universities ignore two-year colleges at their own peril." Ross Taylor, another conference participant, encouraged two-year college faculty to be ever mindful of their main source of students--secondary schools- and to work hard to strengthen their ties with them. There are many other reasons why it was important to examine two-year college mathematics from a national perspective: 1. Over the last quarter century, rio other sector of higher education has grown so rapidly as have two-year colleges. Their enrollments tripled in the 60's, doubled in the 70's, and continue to increase rapidly in the 80's. x 2. Twenty-five years ago, two-year colleges accounted for only one-seventh of all undergraduate mathematics enrollments; today the fraction is more than one-third.