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Cognitively Accessible Math for Adult Learners


About this Project

I want to create materials and community applying Universal Design for Learning principles, and design cognitively accessible mathematics for adult learners for whom learning math may have been unpleasant, terrifying and/or perceived as impossible.

There would be a “textbook” with interactive (digital and concrete) experiences to build conceptual understanding of basic number principles and their applications to “math problems” and daily life.

Many widely used adult basic education math resources are accelerated repetition of procedural instruction. When that proves ineffective for many students, they are often deemed "not able."

In my work at The New Community School, a middle/secondary college-preparatory school for students with specific language learning disorders, I saw that carefully constructed materials with multisensory (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) reinforcement and practice could enable students to learn math well and deeply. Advances in technology make it possible to scale and share these ideas.

I think the OER community can create and disseminate interactive, multisensory OER to open doors of opportunity, whether for evolving “career certificates” or already established adult education credentials. Whether it's lessons using manipulatives (especially in rural areas or correctional institutions where internet access is limited) or interactive OER at sites such as geogebra.org , there is so much potential for reaching the adult basic education community.

Yes, this has to be more than a “textbook.” I’ll need a team :) I’d like to start with my college’s “Transition” textbook (I’ve adaped and shared the first chapter as OER at oercommons.org) and revise it to have more interactive activities and more structure and review. However! If someone or some people were to take on leading roles, I’d be more than happy to swich and adapt a different scope and sequence, such as something with a life skills or specific career focus.

This course would serve to build conceptual knowledge so that learners could then consider college and even university options for continuing education. There are so many people whose learning potential has not been met!

I’d like to create a small module with UDL elements … and then keep building. Sometimes the “universal” design will mean having several options for representation rather than one presentation trying to provide everything.

My objective is to open doors to knowledge and career and life options for people by helping them understand how numberse and mathematics works.

The resources below will tell you more:

First is an infographic with a quick overview of the project.

Next is my CV; next is an example of an interactive digital activity.

This is followed by guidelines for Universal Design for Learning that I will use;

Finally there are sections from an OER chapter I may use as a guide. That is based on a course we offer here at Parkland; another option would be to have a similar scope and sequence to the one at modumath.org.



Susan Jones

Project Manager

Michael Cenkner


David Radcliffe


Katherine Ann Wahl


Andrew Knauft