Washburn expands College Algebra class

Brenden Williams

Washburn’s mathematics department will be splitting the MA 116 College Algebra class into two separate courses — a preparation class as well as College Algebra — to help students who don’t feel prepared for the full class.

Associate Professor of Mathematics, Sarah Cook, said the new class is meant to prepare students for MA 116.

“We’re offering an option.” Cook said. “There is now MA 108, College Algebra Preparation, and it’s going to do some Intermediate Algebra review specific to what we will use in College Algebra and will also cover essentially the first half of College Algebra. Then the next semester there will be a special section of College Algebra that will review what was done in MA 108 and then continue with the remaining portion of College Algebra.”

Cook said the class is spread out over two semesters for those who need a slower speed.

“MA 108 is a good option for those students who may have been through MA 104 Intermediate Algebra but don’t feel like they’re ready to do College Algebra at the pace of one semester, so to spread it out over two semesters is now an option for them,” Cook said. “It is also a good option for students who did well in MA 103 Basic Algebra and think they’re ready to start College Algebra, but again maybe don’t believe they can handle the pace of College Algebra in one semester.”

Cook said one of the reasons they chose to give students an option was the teacher evaluations turned in at the end of every semester.

“In general we’ve kept an eye on the College Algebra D-F-W rate and have been trying to improve it,” Cook said. “Many times, students give the same two comments; ‘there’s too much material,’ and ‘it goes too fast.’ The ‘too much material’ is somewhat out of our control because the Kansas Board of Regents has a common course competency list for College Algebra.”

Cook said this is an effort to address the ‘it goes too fast’ portion.

“With a two semester option, there’s more class time and more time for students to absorb the material,” Cook said.

Anthony Hendricks, a sophomore with a major that’s still undecided, said the pace of the class was not the problem.

“The biggest problem is not the homework, it’s the test taking because if you get an A on the class but fail the final you fail the whole class,” Hendricks said. “If you’re bad at test taking and you fail the final, you don’t get to pass the class, even if you’re really good at doing homework.

Hendricks said he took College Algebra three times and had an A, B, or C in the class but failed the final — so he didn’t get credit.