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A holistic four-year mathematics curriculum that is published by Key Curriculum Press, usually geared towards high school students.

The curriculum offers an alternative to the ubiquitous high-school math classes which include algebra (I/II), geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, and statistics.

Due to the unique nature of the curriculum, the program is usually taught only in specialized schools, such as magnet schools.

Characteristics of IMP
Many incoming freshmen who first see the textbooks describe them as "full of word problems". And they're quite right - unlike regular text books, IMP sets up a situation and storyline for each unit. For example, the Year 2 geometry unit asks, "do bees build it best?" (referring to geometric tessellations and area).

There are vitually no assignment that involves solving more than 10 problems - unlike physics and chemistry textbooks, which have around 200 questions per chapter.

All mathematical concepts are covered one way or another every year of the course, with increasing difficulty. For example, Year 1 statistics may simply involve probability; Year 2 statistics covers the chi square goodness of fit test. This system is a direct opposite to the regular curriculum, where each year is specialized on one topic.

Another difference is the flexibility of the curriculum. Since concepts are introduced in a course of multiple days, certain areas can be skipped in order to cover another portion in detail.

Finally, another reason this curriculum is geared towards specialized school is due to the emphasis on group work. Homework is usually reviewed within small groups of 3-4 students, then presented to the class.

To summarize:
  • Promotes logical reasoning through textual problems
  • Introduces/reviews multiple concepts each year
  • Flexible curriculum
  • Promotes group work

    Reflection
    Having gone through this program myself, I must say that I do miss the solve for x type problems commonly seen in algebra books. The biggest advantage I see in the IMP curriculum is the variety of problems in the course. Each situations can be realistic, and one can almost feel attached to recurring characters in the problems.

    Unfortunately, the word problem system is also its major weakness. Most students who complete this curriculum will expect to go on to college-level calculus; and promptly return to the "do problems #1-50" phase. This adaptation issue can also be seen when students take standardized tests such as the SAT.

    (By the way, the publisher of IMP states that their students perform better than regular students; which is to be expected, considering already-advanced students make up the bulk of IMP users.)

    Pros
  • Unique
  • Enhances logical reasoning and proof skills (why does the Pythagorean theorem work?)
  • Provides a wide variety of concepts

    Cons
  • An extreme change from the regular curriculum
  • May not teach specific terms/concepts, only as rules
  • May not go into detail of concepts

    Resources
    The website for the program is at http://www.mathimp.org/. There is a general description of each unit/chapter, if you're interested.
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