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UVSC Students Protest Math

UVSC Students Protest Math

Posted - Sep. 9, 2004 at 7:25 a.m.



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OREM, Utah (AP) -- Some Utah Valley State College students are blaming the school for the failure rate in basic math and they want changes made.

UVSC said the problem of students flunking math is statewide and nationwide.

Marina Nelson feared taking college algebra at UVSC, so she took it at Salt Lake Community College and plans to transfer the credits.

"You don't want to take chances. It's your money, first of all, and your time," she said.

Nelson has gathered nearly 200 student signatures in a petition asking that the college change the way it teaches the course and she plans to take the issue to the Legislature.

Sam Rushforth, UVSC dean of science and health, said much of the problem is students coming to college without having learned the math skills in the public schools.

"We end up teaching what they should have learned in high school," he said.

Many students are failing required mathematics courses at each of the 10 state-funded colleges and universities, said Phyllis Safman, assistant state education commissioner for academic affairs,

"I think there's no one place to put the blame. It's a problem, however, that we need to solve," she said.

In October, the state Board of Regents will meet with university and public school officials to address the mathematics issue.

The educators will be discussing possible standardized final exams for the three math classes taught at each of the state colleges and what should be covered in the classes, Rushforth said.

Students must pass at least one class to get a degree. The one they take depends on their field of study.

Because UVSC has an open enrollment policy, many students need to take remedial math courses to learn the basics before taking classes required for graduation, such as college algebra, Rushforth said.

Many students fail the higher-level math classes because they take them when the course is above their level, he said.

"We certainly have a higher problem with math than some of the schools that have a higher entrance ACT requirement," he said.

Also, many put off taking their math classes out of anxiety, Rushforth said. But the longer they wait, the harder it is to pick up on the concepts, which contributes to the math failure rate, he said.

To offset this and to lower the number of students failing math classes, the school is looking at changing a number of things, such as requiring those who need to take remedial classes to do so their first semester.

The college also may offer a course taught by both a mathematician and a psychologist, for those with math phobia problems, Rushforth said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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