Partner Disciplines

Establishing a system of math pathways at scale requires collaboration across disciplines.

The Role of Partner Disciplines in Math Pathways

Mathematics faculty must actively and collaboratively engage faculty in partner disciplines to ensure that mathematics courses are designed to prepare students for programs of study, careers, and citizenship. Partner disciplines should be given direct input in defining default mathematics requirements for programs of study aligned to the program learning outcomes.

Essential Ideas and Selected Resources

The sections below offer resources for collaborators in partner disciplines to consider as they remove barriers to student success and design strategies to increase productivity and reduce costs to students, institutions, and taxpayers alike.

  • Essential Idea 1

    Faculty from partner disciplines play an essential role in aligning math pathways to programs of study.

  • Essential Idea 2

    Students benefit from clear, explicit recommendations for the preferred mathematics requirement.

Within an institution, math faculty work with faculty from partner disciplines to identify the mathematical needs of programs and design gateway courses to meet those needs. This work extends across institutions as faculty collaborate to establish common mathematics requirements that ensure students are able to apply math credits to degree programs when they transfer.

Selected Resources:

Higher education has long operated on the assumption that students are best served by having the freedom to choose from a wide variety of options. However, growing evidence indicates that students benefit from a more structured experience with a small number of clearly defined choices. Many colleges and universities have begun implementing guided pathways and defining default entry–level mathematics requirements aligned with broad program clusters.

One of the tenets of guided pathways is that faculty should identify the most appropriate courses to meet general education requirements for programs of study. Often non–algebraically intensive majors default students into a number of different mathematics courses, such as statistics, modeling, and quantitative reasoning. The consensus recommendation of all 17 professional societies of mathematics, as represented by the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, is that College Algebra should only be required for programs that require Calculus.

Selected Resources:

Tammi Marshall
"We are working closer with disciplines outside mathematics to make sure we are meeting the requirements, math prerequisites, exact topics, and what students need to know. We sat down and asked, 'What do you need students to be able to do?' These kinds of conversations have to occur to make sure across disciplines, we are meeting the prerequisite requirements so students can be successful at all levels and in all disciplines.”
Tammi Marshall, Mathematics Department Chair, Cuyamaca College (CA)

Join the Joyful Conspiracy

Making mathematics pathways the normative practice at full scale within and across institutions requires coordinated actions across stakeholder groups and across sectors. Uri Treisman coined the phrase “the Joyful Conspiracy” to describe this united effort.

Explore the critical roles of each stakeholder group:




Learn more about the organizations that support and innovate in the mathematics pathways movement: