Abstract / Synopsis

Erlwanger (1973) shook the mathematics education world when he introduced Benny, a student who successfully worked through a behavioristic curriculum. Erlwanger showed how far removed Benny’s understanding of mathematics was from expectations. Erlwanger’s legacy is the basis for this comparative case study which explores students’ actions in the modern, in-class computer-centered emporium classroom. Many striking similarities are found between Pearson’s MyMathLabs (MML) and Benny’s Individually Prescribed Instruction curriculum. In this case study we meet Barbara, a student who succeeds in MML but shows little understanding of mathematical concepts and demonstrates that the legacy of Benny is his continued appearance in our current students. However, what differentiates Benny and Barbara is more than time; it’s the inequities resulting from imposing a pedagogy with well-known problematic characteristics to developmental mathematics students. Most of these developmental students are members of marginalized communities. As such, the social justice and ethical implications of using such a course structure are explored.

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