By Megan Lloyd; The Whetstone
Ask any freshman about Wesley’s core math requirement, MA180 Applied Math Concepts, and he or she will probably have something to say about it.
“The projects were the most difficult,” sophomore Shon Sanders said. “My professor on the first day of class told me ‘most students drop the class after the project.’”
MA180 was implemented in fall 2014 as part of the College’s new core curriculum. The class had at first required two group projects; now there’s only one. The project involves solving a set of problems and writing a report on the findings.
“I got a D the first time I took MA180,” sophomore Alexander Haber said. “I’m retaking it now and am doing much better. The professor I have now really teaches and I’m learning a lot through their style.”
Dr. Frank Fiedler, professor of math and data science and the chair of the department, said the projects were not about numbers.
“It is about problem solving and how you approach a problem,” he said.
Many students get caught up in just wanting to get the right answer, he said. But it’s about the process of getting to the answer.
Fiedler said he understood that some of the complaints are about the writing involved in the group project.
“When the new core curriculum was being developed, we agreed that there should be writing across all curriculum,” he said.
Sophomore Kaelynn Lang said the projects were helpful.
“It put the course into real-life situations and I think the projects were graded fairly,” she said.
Other students said they did not find it necessary for the math course to be a requirement.
“The way MA180 is designed now will most likely make the average student fail and have to retake the course,” Sanders said. “I think most majors here do not need to take MA180 as a core class. It could be offered as more of a fill in class.”
Some students think particular majors need it more than others.
“I’m a nursing major, but I feel like the course didn’t do much for me,” sophomore Anna Jones said. “But it would be beneficial for math and business majors.”
The grading of the projects also are an issue for some students.
“Since I liked math, I liked the course and had really no trouble understanding the concepts,” sophomore Samantha Jones said. “It was the group work that ruined it for me. My professor showed no care for individual grades.”
As for the grading of the project, Fiedler said the projects are done in groups to prepare students for the future when working in a time will be necessary in their career.
“The projects are a very real world experience – working in a team.” He said. “In a company, your manager does not care what excuse you have for not finishing a project.”
Fiedler also said each professor in his department must teach the course.
“Nobody is exempt,” he said. And neither are students.
Fiedler said the department listens to students’ concerns.
Previous to MA180, the College lowered the 6-8 math credit requirement to 3 credits – MA180.