College math courses: Are they efficient?

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For some students, meeting the math requirement for their degree is a schedule. But are the skills taught in the required math classes really helpful to students?
Certificate specific math classes have been added to Central Oregon Community College, according to Doug Nelson, chair of the math department at COCC.

Students need to be aware of what math courses they will use in their careers.

“A few years back we sent out a survey to all the faculty in charge of programs at COCC and asked what type of math skills they thought students would need to succeed in their degree field,” said Nelson. “For some of the programs the necessary math skills were on completely opposite ends of the math spectrum, so for those programs we created specialty math courses.” These classes aim to give students the skills they need to be proficient in the math skills their career will require, said Nelson.

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“Every field will have different levels of math that are incorporated in the job,” said Nelson. “It is our job to make sure students get the necessary skill they need to be successful in their profession.”
Nelson believes that the requirements for transfer degrees at COCC are also succeeding in preparing students for transferring.
Students who complete the transfer degree math requirements at COCC have the skills they need to be prepared for a university, according to Nelson.
“We have heard from OSU faculty in the valley about how well-prepared our students from COCC are as far as math,” said Nelson. “Our program, it gets them a step ahead.”
Sean Rule, mathematics professor at COCC, believes that students must make sure they are learning the required skills for their individual profession.
“While the requirements are sufficient for graduation,” said Rule, “each student needs to be aware of what skills they should learn to be successful in their field.”
Students should make sure they are working closely with their advisors to select math courses, said Rule.
“Students can learn the math skills necessary for their chosen field,” said Rule. “If they are advised to the correct ones.”
There are plans to create at least one more certificate specific math class within the next two years, according to Nelson.
“This institution has gotten to a size where we now have the option of offering specialty math courses to our students,” said Nelson. “This would help us to encompass more of the aspects of math that many careers now require.”

–Molly Svendsen

The Broadside
(Contact: msvendsen@cocc.edu)

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