UMass Boston

Directions for Student Potential

DSP Curriculum

DSP Curriculum

The curricular guidelines for DSP are informed by two educational frameworks: 1) Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy and 2) The CLOVER Model. Each framework provides areas of support that build the philosophical foundation for our courses as well as class content and learning outcomes.

The DSP curriculum is designed to support our faculty and tutors in developing and implementing classroom content that engages all students effectively and equitably, as well as provide appropriate supports and services to promote positive student outcomes.  

The DSP curricular guidelines are set up to promote student-centered and student-directed learning spaces that intentionally affirm the cultural identities and interests of the students we serve; foster positive and fair academic outcomes; develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices in the classroom and beyond; guide students to reclaim their power as agents of social change; and contribute to individual student engagement, learning, growth, self-advocacy, and achievement through the cultivation of critical thinking and critical consciousness.  

In DSP, we hope to expose our students to a schedule that mimics what they will experience in college. As such, our curriculum consists of four courses: Critical Analysis, Math, U-Skills Community, and an elective. 

Critical Analysis

This class is designed to guide the students to build upon their current knowledge to strengthen their reading comprehension and analytical skills to approach challenging college-level texts as well as to integrate and center culturally relevant content in class to foster discussion and critical views about society.​​ The class includes:

  • Collaborative Discussions & Group Work​​
  • Reflective Thinking​​
  • Essay Writing Workshops​
  • Embedded Tutors and Individual Attention​
  • Preparation for Fall coursework and general college expectations


In DSP, we approach college math from a non-traditional standpoint to ensure that our students fully engage and understand​ its applicability to their majors and their daily lives. Our math curriculum is focused content on looking at the question “What is math?”  The classes are also student-centered and student-directed, which allows our students to indicate which areas they would like or need more instruction on (from instructor and peers) while they learn in a highly collaborative environment. With weekly content, the math class will focus on six different areas:​​

  • ​Problem-solving aspects of math and its relevancy​​
  • Math placement test: ALEKS – How it works and strategies to approach the test more effectively (in addition to other math content)​​
  • Differences between high school math and college math  ​​
  • College math strategies (thinking about math): what math is appropriate for you? ​​
  • Math in the work world ​​
  • Equity issues in college math: Reclaiming math power ​

All DSP students are required to take the ALEKS Math Placement Assessment prior to the start of the program. The ALEKS Math Placement Assessment will allow you to see what you need to work on in order to be ready for math in the fall semester, and you will also have the opportunity to retake the ALEKS exam during the six weeks of DSP to make sure you can take a math class that is relevant to your major. 

U-Skills Community

Our U-Skills Community curriculum focuses on helping you identify and access key campus resources from WISER and Blackboard, to financial aid, counselling, the Ross Center, among others​. Additionally, this course offers you guidance to identify potential scholarships, internships as well as on-campus and off-campus job opportunities. Another component of this course is the community building activities. The main goal with the community activities is to guide you to build a strong university community through on-campus activities including boat cruises, recreation days with the athletics department, and more!​


In DSP, you can select one from a limited menu of courses to complement the core courses of the program. In college, elective courses allow students to broaden their education and explore their interests as they make choices regarding their major and potential minor. With an elective option in DSP, students can start experiencing topics in various disciplines to better understand what their interests are and what elective courses they may want to take in their freshman year. 

If you have any questions about the courses we offer, feel free to contact us at