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Subject:

Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors

From:

Ann Marshall <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 8 Jan 2007 11:02:16 -0600

Content-Type:

multipart/mixed

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (208 lines) , marshall.vcf (13 lines)

Well said, Robert!!  I am an English major and director of the learning 
center at Weatherford College, TX, and I deal with students every day 
who come to college ill-prepared for what faces them.  So many of our 
students have to take remedial courses, even math fundamentals, just to 
catch up with basic math skills that I sometimes wonder just what they 
are being taught in high school.  (And, I can say the same thing about 
reading and writing skills!)  I too believe that we need to strengthen 
our students, not weaken them.  Maybe then, we can convince our 
government that Americans can do the jobs that currently reside overseas.

Robert Ciervo wrote:
> Well for one, not even one university forces any student to pay for any
> classes.  Students have the free will to choose to attend any university
> that will accept them and then choose any major within that university for
> which the university will allow them to enroll.  Once they do so they have
> the free will to change their major or transfer to another institution if
> again there is class for which they would not like to enroll. 
>
> We can all harken back to past times and I could wax nostalgic about the era
> in which even urban inner city students were taking Algebra 2 in 9th grade,
> Geometry in 10th grade, Trigonometry in 11th grade and Calculus in 12th
> grade.  My father graduated from one of those urban public schools in the
> early 1960s and today in that same school students who are proficient enough
> to enroll in Calculus by 12th grade have to attend a local university as
> there are not even more than a handful of students who ever reach that
> proficiency.  Sadly in the past 45 years government run schools have failed
> many millions of students and their families.     
>
> That is why I am saddened to hear of professionals pushing for the lowering
> of standards instead of supporting higher expectations for our students.
> Far too many students from every strata of society are entering our
> universities not able to add fractions, having totally forgotten about
> concepts as basic as lowest common denominator.  Students who enroll in
> college should really have already mastered algebra, regardless of major or
> possible career path.  One of higher education's greatest gifts to our
> society, in my opinion, has been its flexibility in even offering algebra
> courses, as it has realized as a collective that it must serve as a
> remediation step for an ever growing number of students.
>
> I wholeheartedly support our institution's requirement that students master
> basic algebra either through placement test or by passing our two remedial
> courses (Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra).  In essence Rutgers,
> a New Jersey supported institution, is stepping in and educating students
> (mainly from New Jersey) who have been failed by their local government run
> schools.
>     
> Sincerely,
>    
> Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
> Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
> Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
> 231 Armitage Hall
> 311 N. Fifth Street
> Camden, NJ 08102
> (856) 225-2722
> (856) 225-6443 fax
> [log in to unmask]
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Williams, Kathy
> Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 9:32 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors
>
> Ah, now we have a conversation going! There are some careers that do not
> call for algebraic skills, so why force students in particular majors to
> learn them? Personally, I think it is a disservice to force students to
> take and pay for a class that many of them fail and have to take
> repeatedly, which often leads to a host of problems. 
>
> Luckily, I attended college in the day when colleges and universities
> weren't forcing students to take an algebra course, so I had only to
> pass a basic math skills course with just a very little algebra thrown
> in for . . . the sake of knowledge, I suppose.
>
> Dr. Ciervo, why do you consider this a disservice to higher education? 
>
> In addition, I would have to say that there are many factors that are
> turning our country into a service economy and I would not lay the blame
> for that at the feet of higher ed. I guess that is another convo,
> though.  
>
> Kathy A. Williams, M.A. 
> Academic Skills Coordinator
> Transition & University Services
> Eastern Kentucky University
> SSB 323, CPO 64
> 521 Lancaster Avenue
> Richmond, KY 40475-3164
> Phone: (859) 622-8860
> Fax: (859) 622-5887
>  
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Ciervo
> Sent: Monday, January 08, 2007 8:43 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Math for Liberal Arts Majors
>
> Any institution of higher learning that "wisely" recognizes that alegbra
> is
> not a necessary requirement for its students to master, is in my opinion
> doing a tremendous disservice to higher education and only adds fuel to
> the
> engine that is turning our country into a service economy and
> outsourcing
> employment opportunities that require any thought and logic overseas.
>
> Increasing retention by "dumbing down" the curriculum is not only
> ridiculous, but grossly negligent in my opinion and any "consultant" who
> makes this recommendation should be ignored.
>
> Robert L. Ciervo, Ph.D., Director
> Rutgers-Camden Learning Center
> Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
> 231 Armitage Hall
> 311 N. Fifth Street
> Camden, NJ 08102
> (856) 225-2722
> (856) 225-6443 fax
> [log in to unmask]
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Teresa Farnum
> Sent: Sunday, January 07, 2007 2:34 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Math for Liberal Arts Majors
>
> Greetings,
> I am trying to accumulate a list of institutions that have wisely
> recognized
> that algebra is not a necessary requirement for numeracy and solid
> quantitative reasoning skills.  
>
> If your general education requirement includes an option of "Mathematics
> for
> Liberal Arts Majors" or some similar title, does NOT have a prerequisite
> of
> algebra, and serves as the terminal math course for non-science majors,
> I
> would appreciate hearing from you.
>
> As a consultant working with colleges and universities to increase
> student
> learning, success, and satisfaction with an expected goal of increasing
> retention and graduation rates, it is clear to me--a former professor of
> mathematics--that we, in this country, are doing an incredible
> disservice to
> students who will not need algebra (which is simply a tool for more
> advanced
> mathematical study).  It is appalling to me the number of lives we
> impact
> negatively by requiring algebra of liberal arts majors.
>
> Please share success stories at your institutions.  Thank you!
>
>
> Teresa
> Teresa Farnum & Associates
>
> Your Change Agent to Recruit and Graduate Students
> Denver, Colorado
> Phone: 303-248-3011
> Fax:     303-248-3549
>
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