Why Minority Valedictorians Fail Calculus, Findings Of The Berkeley Program

By Alex Alaniz
MS Mathematics; BS, PhD Physics – Former LANL Nuclear Stockpile physicist – Former quant

“A singular underlying issue was identified distinguishing the way Asians approach first year calculus versus other minorities. Chinese students in first year calculus classes gather at a home to cook dinner and pore over homework assignments, old department tests, fix each other’s mistakes, eliminate misconceptions, and mentor themselves. Black valedictorians, used to working hard and being self-sufficient, quickly fell behind because once they missed a concept, they could no longer keep up with the onslaught of new, vertically integrated material.
Given this observation, participatory group study time was implemented for all class members taking after the Chinese model. The result of which, in a nutshell, was parity in success for all students in all demographics.”

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