Math 30 doesn’t add up, 52% receive Ds or worse

Alexandra Nicolas

At $130 per hour, Missouri Southern’s hardest class won’t even earn you college credit.

It’s not Calculus with Analytical Geometry III, or Quantum Mechanics. With a 52.5 percent rate of Ds, Fs, withdrawals or incompletes (DFWI) for 2004- 2005, Math 30 clocks in as Southern’s hardest class.

Encroaching on the number-one spot with a 46.2 percent rate is yet another graduation requirement, Econ 180. Following up with a 40.5 percent is Math 130. As part of the Foundations of Excellence self-study action projects, a committee has been created to establish a response to classes with high enrollment and low success.

“It’s easy to place blame here and here, but the blame goes across the board,” said Dr. Delores Honey, assistant vice president for assessment and institutional research.

Both the math and economics departments have prepared a plan to increase the number of students passing these required classes.

Dr. Juan Vazquez, department head of math and co-chair of the action project two committee, proposed multiple options to bring up passage rates, including revision of topics, offering Math 30 only on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and creating a math lab staffed by faculty during their office hours.

“There are many factors we cannot change, but some we can and that’s what we’re going to do,” Vazquez said.

Econ 180 is being restructured with emphasis being placed on topics such as the management of money, credit and resources. A large portion of the math will also be removed from the course.

“We’re trying to make it more interesting by getting in discussions about current issues,” said Dr. James Gray, professor of business administration.

One explanation for student’s performance in these required classes is a lack of relation to their major or interests.

“I think it’s because it’s required.” said Tori Rowden, senior psychology major. “I was bitter about even going into econ.”

With failure rates so high, many theories are cited as the cause, including lack of student effort and unrealistic schedules.

“They [students] want to take 15 hours, they want to take history and political science in the same semester, they want to work 40 hours a week, and they want to do it all on Tuesday, Thursday and you can’t do it,” said Eillen Godsey, director of the learning center and co-chair of the action project two committee.

Solutions for student apathy, such as making content more approachable, more interesting, and more relevant were also discussed.

“I think the students don’t really believe this is something they are ever going to need,” Honey said.

Even the issue of instructors’ teaching styles will be examined.

“I’ve been here long enough to know it does matter who was behind the desk,” Gray said.

“I had a 4.0 until that class [Econ 180].” Rowden said, “I still have like a 3.79, but I’m still bitter about that C.”