Opposing Viewpoints: Math policy needs to change

The Student Success Center, under normal circumstances, would have been a haven of hope for me. They have the words “student success” in their name for a reason, right? Then why did I experience dread every time I passed their doors in the Student Services Building? I knew eventually I would have to trudge my shameful behind through those doors and explain myself.

Developmental math at Weber State University, much like the parking, is notorious for being an issue among students. What works for some students in the TERM classes may not work for other students who require more hands-on instruction by a professor.

Several semesters ago, the developmental math department brought the Flipped classes to demoralized students. This allowed more student and professor face time, the luxury of quizzes to be taken at home, as well as no mandatory Hub time every week. Success rates skyrocketed over TERM classes. However, the problem with the Flipped classes is that students cannot fall behind. If a student cannot pass their quiz or test, they can fall behind in the class and be transferred to the TERM class to get caught up. This can be a pitfall for students who get discouraged further by their inability to pass a quiz or test and find it difficult to catch up.

Math 990 and 1010 are not the easiest for students who are returning after an academic sabbatical, let alone trying to juggle the rigorous workload of other classes. Math requires a large amount of attention, but let’s face the facts here: The amount of brainpower it takes some of us to focus on math alone can lead to discouragement in and of itself, as well as screaming matches at the Y who constantly is nagging me to find its X. It’s gone and it’s not coming back, so don’t you dare try dragging the Z into it.

So, when I learned that my happy overachieving self had failed miserably in exponents and factoring and would have to suffer a hold on my registration on top of the failure, it was like rubbing salt in the wound.

Three strikes and you’re out is how it feels to most students who have to face failure after failure in math. You have three chances to get the holds removed from your account before you are forced to take just math in a semester.

Being forced to take just math in a semester without the ability to add more credit hours makes you unable to reach full-time student status. Without reaching full-time status, the financial aid that most of us depend on to supplement our incomes while we work and focus on our studies is taken away.

For nontraditional students who do not live with parents, the thought can be frightening. What can/should/will I do if I have to come up with tuition by myself? I couldn’t possibly continue working for the university without being a full-time student, because that’s the whole stipulation on my employment. I would be jobless, penniless and with the knowledge that one class that I struggled with brought my entire academic success to its knees.

The only option would be to not come back to school for a while, if at all. This is a cruel reality that most students face when met with a math policy that does not meet the academic needs of students in order to succeed.

Some may argue that this doesn’t affect a large amount of students a semester. However, this math policy as a whole has affected students in a negative way, which has caused them to not return to Weber. Since when is it a good policy to use fear as a motivational tool in academia? Sure, it works for dictators, but I would love to think that a bad policy that seems to only hurt a few would be reconsidered, because there is no data that states it has any benefit on the many.

For the spring 2014 semester, the Weber State University Student Senate in their wisdom saw the plight of their fellow academic comrades and decided to suspend the three-strike policy. I felt elated knowing that the shadow of the Student Success Center would not be looming over my student account this semester.

Follow: @wsuScienceTech

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Posted by on January 23, 2014. Filed under Academics, Opinion, Student Government, Viewpoint. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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