Introductory Algebra by Hawkes Learning Systems is a
straightforward beginning algebra program that helps to provide
a solid base for further studies in mathematics. It is intended
for students who have already completed an introductory algebra
This textbook manages to convey its topics in a clear and easy-to-follow
manner. Vocabulary is emphasized very well, written both verbally
and mathematically, which helps students to completely comprehend
the myriad mathematical terms. While the text explains things very
well, it is pure math and is very skill-and-drill focused. The
accompanying software provides unlimited practice problems for
even more drill. This is very good for students who have trouble
remembering the steps to solve the problems, but it is very frustrating
for the student who understands the problems and is ready to take
it a step deeper.
Readability is a very important feature for any math text, and
this book excels with good spacing and clean, easy-to-read text.
It also includes excellent visual instruction of technology application,
specifically with a T1-84 graphing calculator. It truly teaches
the student how to use the calculator, frequently showing screen
shots of the calculator with detailed instructions on how to use
it for various formulas throughout the book.
The software that is part of this course comes as a CD with the
book. In addition to offering unlimited review, the software also
allows students to interact with the mathematical concepts in the
lessons and tests their skill knowledge for each section of the
book. The software also allows the instructor to assign homework,
generate personalized tests, and keep track of course scores and
credits. In the event that a textbook is purchased as a used book,
software packages can also be purchased separately from the textbook.
However, the software is not a necessary component of the book.
In fact, the student book isn't entirely necessary either. The
Teacher's Edition has answers in the sidebars but not worked problems.
It might not be an option for everyone, but if it isn't a distraction
or a temptation, students can work freely from the Teacher's Edition
just as in the Student Text. A separate Student's Solutions Manual
is available for purchase if you would like to see the solutions "worked
out" for you. In that scenario, I would recommend purchasing the
Solutions Manual rather than the Instructor's Edition to accompany
the student text, as the Instructor's Edition is little more than
an answer key accompanying the student text. Occasional Teacher's
Notes are thrown in, but they are infrequent and not necessary
to the understanding of the exercises.
I found the text to be strongly lacking in proofs and in life-application
exercises. The word problems and such exist, but they are separate
from the portion of the text that practices new formulas and are
not integrated throughout the text. The lack of emphasis on practical
application, combined with the staggering amount of drill, make
this the kind of text that makes kids say, "When are we ever going
to use this?" Students WILL learn the skills, but I'm not convinced
they will understand what they learned for any purpose beyond testing.
This said, the course still has many benefits. It is an excellent
preparation for standardized testing. It is also an excellent program
for students who need to learn the formulas in order to progress
in math but who do not necessarily desire to explore why the
formulas work. It could even be useful for a student who grasps
the meaning behind the math and just wants to be certain the basics
are covered before progressing. In this instance, the excess drill
could be ignored, or teachers could even choose to assign only
the end-of-chapter reviews. With the amount of extra work available,
I've found the textbook helpful for pulling out extra work to supplement
other math programs when a student demonstrates a need for extra
I was surprised to learn that this is used as a college-level
course. If you are using it as a homeschool curriculum, you might
want to incorporate it with an online course and earn college credit
at the same time.