Math: what is it good for? Students ponder why math classes are needed

By Deborah Cooper, Staff Reporter

Having to take college mathematics can be challenging for some students, and many do not know about what resources are available to help them better succeed in math classes at Main campus.
Linda Martin, Associate Dean of Math, Science and Engineering said personal finances can affect choices in terms of political decisions such as voting in elections, as well as medical decisions, because percentages and probabilities can come into play.
“Beyond basic math there’s some more advanced mathematics that run into your everyday life. Just in terms of working with percentages and working with probabilities has some pretty complicated concepts behind them and you face that stuff every day in stores and in dealing with loans,” she said.
Developing aptitude with numbers takes time, and students’ progress into learning variables, number and graphs and the ability to analyze numbers seen out in the world, she said.
“As humans we measure things, there’s numbers everywhere and so as you develop that facility, you develop the ability to make predictions and to do analysis, of what’s going on. You see trends and you’re able to make predictions that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to make,” she said.
Martin said that what degree one is getting is what really matter into how high one needs to go in math courses.
“If you’re looking for an Associate Degree in something not math related, it’s probably just math 1210 or above. Then you have all the choices that you want. If you’re going to an algebra based degree, you would have to take an algebra class. Whether it’s an Associate‘s or Bachelor‘s degree will determine how high on the level you need to take,” she said.
As far as Martin knows all Associates Degrees require some college mathematics, and that there is no opting out of required math courses for students, but that there is different types of math classes students can try, she said.
“So we have algebra classes and people who like to follow set processes and like a lot of structure, do very well in algebra even if they think they don’t, a lot of times, they do. People who are freer and like to think outside the box, we have problem solving, the math 1210 and that satisfies the requirement for most degrees at CNM even though it does not include much algebra,” she said.
Here expectations of students coming to a 1210 class when she was teacher, is to have passed the pre-requisite 930 math class and to have grasped the concepts in those courses, she said.
“I assume the students are proficient with basic operations, addition, multiplication, division and fractions. I assume they have used percents before and that they’ve solved linear equations , done some really basic algebra,” she said.
If students hope to move onto a four-year college for a bachelor’s degree people will have to take college Algebra, she said.
“If you’re an algebra enthusiast, then we have statistics which is really an applicable class. It doesn’t involve much algebra, but there are some formulas you use. You run into statistics in your everyday life all the time and it gives you the tools to understand the statistics you see,” she said.
Martin said that there is also the 1320-survey of math class that is the artistic side of mathematics and playing with ideas.
Ms. Martin offered knowledge of many resources for the challenges of Math such as pulling up lectures on line, tutors, and for additional practice problems by getting amazing software that gives hints and links to lectures of the books author. There are so many different options of how to learn in the best way.
Math tutoring services are available at the main campus in the SRC room 203 Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It seems like a lot of people who are afraid of it think that they can’t learn it and it is something that doesn’t make sense and they just have to memorize. In my mind, math makes sense. Nothing is going to be done in the math class that you cannot make sense of and every student here has the ability to understand what’s going on in their math class. So if they’re hitting that frustration that there is so many crazy rules that they’re memorizing, then they might want to step back and realize that they’ve got the ability to understand and figure out,” Martin said.

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