Why is passing Math 101 so hard at JCU?

By Olivia Austin
Math. It is a subject that so many have come to dread. Especially at a small, liberal arts school like John Cabot University (JCU), where communications and art history majors require the practice of skills from the complete opposite side of the brain.

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking.

Most of the majors at JCU, such as Communications, Art History, Italian Studies and English Literature are used to working with the right side of the brain. The side of the brain that is responsible for creativity, holistic thoughts and visualization.

Unfortunately for those right-brain thinkers, the educational system still requires them to use the left side of their brains in some college-level courses in order to graduate. But what is it about Math 101 at JCU that makes it so hard for the righties to pass with the minimum requirement of a C-?

Rachaell Siah, a degree-seeking student, says that many students have not taken a math course since the beginning of high school.

Since math is an accumulative subject, extra help during the beginning steps of math is crucial for students in order to understand algebra.

The level or knowledge of understanding that is required according to the syllabus for Math 101-2 is “few prerequisites other than elementary familiarity with numbers and simple geometric concepts such as: finding the least common multiple of two or more numbers, manipulating fractions, calculating the area of a triangle, square, rectangle, circle, etc.”

For some, this may not sound difficult. But for a large portion of the student body at JCU, it has the potential to hold them back from graduating.

A degree-seeking student who asked to remain anonymous said, “I transferred here and was told by my academic advisor that my math credits from my old university filled the requirements for Math 101. When I was registering for fall semester of my senior year, she told me she made a mistake and that the class she thought fit in its place did not and that I would need to take Math 101 in order to graduate.”

Stella Militello, a degree seeker had a similar problem. “I was told by my math professor that I only needed a D to pass, which I got, but that’s not true because you need a C- in order to graduate.” Another student said they were told the same thing.

Apart from students being advised incorrectly from different branches of faculty, students have also expressed having problems within the classroom.

Hanna Knight, a degree seeker said, “The math teacher was not that helpful and to be completely honest, her English was hard to understand. She mixed up the words a lot and I did not understand what she was trying to tell me.”

Militello had similar issues with the same professor. “If someone asked her a question, she would say, “‘You should understand’. The only time she would explain something is if three students asked the same question. She would roll her eyes before answering. There was never an opportunity to learn because she didn’t want to teach,” said Militello.

A student tutor who works at the Math Tutoring Center disagreed that professors are the issue. “The math department is great. We have some borderline genius mathematicians at the school,” the student tutor said.

Many of the student tutors enjoy their work at the Math Tutoring Center. Their job is to assist the students who are struggling.

One tutor said, “We pay a lot of money to go to this school, so one would expect a large amount of resources to be at [students’] disposal if they need help in things like math. We have the tutoring lab and it’s great, and the tutors are good at what they do, trust me.”

Virginia Agnoni was not satisfied with her experience at the Math Tutoring Center.  “I scheduled an appointment with them more than once, and every time I went there, the tutors were doing their own homework, or tutoring big groups of people, so they could not help in a proper way, and that’s if I was lucky enough to find the person who was supposed to be there in that moment,” said Agnoni.

“More professors should be aware of the requirements that a student needs in order to graduate from JCU,” Rachaell said, “because now I am in my junior year of college and I am dreading another semester of math ahead.”

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