Math Pathways Provide New Options for Students

August 13, 2017 | Campus News

This fall, a change is coming to East Central College. Under the guidance of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, colleges across the state will divide mathematics requirements into different “Math Pathways” that align with students’ programs of study.

“These math pathways will allow students to take a math course that is more relevant to their program of study,” said Dean of Instruction, Ann Boehmer.

At ECC, Statistics, Contemporary Mathematics, College Algebra, and Precalculus will satisfy the general education math requirement for an Associate of Arts degree.  For students seeking degrees in a STEM field, an algebraic intensive math, such as College Algebra or the Calculus sequence, will still be required.

“A student in a humanities-related field might be best served by Contemporary Math, which is a mathematical reasoning course,” said Boehmer. “A student in a social science field might find Statistics to best serve them in their program of study.”

The development of new Math Pathways is supported by a growing number of educators nationwide who believe college algebra is not the best math course for many students, depending on the type of degree they are seeking.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education website goes into further detail of why the Math Pathways came about.

“Too often we hear the refrains ‘I’m just not good in math’ and ‘I don’t need math for my career,’” the website states. “Part of our challenge is changing perceptions of mathematics from something to be feared to something essential to one’s success in college and career. To that end, we must focus our attention not only on what is taught but how it is taught. We must align the appropriate mathematical concepts and skills with each program of study and do a better job of teaching those concepts and skills.”

The pathways aren’t being implemented overnight. The process began at ECC in October 2014 when a representative from the math department was asked to assist in the establishment of the Missouri Mathematics Pathways Task Force (MMPT).  Since that time, the math department has been working diligently in designing and redesigning courses.

“ECC’s math department has taken the creation of these pathways to heart.  Our faculty are aware of our obligation to our stakeholders in both learning competencies and transferability to four-year colleges and universities,” Boehmer said.

Missouri worked with higher education institutions in four other states to create the new math options. Higher education officials believe more math options will help increase college completion rates.