The Easterner

Math Lab contributes to department’s bad reputation

By Joe Matthews, Opinion Editor

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Unfortunately for EWU, over the past several years its math department has received the reputation of being sub-par. With complaints of poor teaching, tests that have nothing to do with prior lessons and little resources to their disposal, students have become incredibly frustrated with the lack of progress they are seeing, not only in their own education, but in Eastern’s compliance to provide the necessary tools for them to succeed.

The Math Lab is one of the main resources that professors recommend students take advantage of and, in all reality, it is a really good one for most people. However, most people aren’t taking classes higher than basic college level algebra and for the brave souls who venture on past this course into the calculus classes there seems to be a rapid decline in the amount of help they are offered.

“When I was in [calculus] one and two you could never really go in there and find someone easily to help you with your math. There were a lot of people from your class in there so we had to work together and figure it out ourselves,” Jenna Alleman, a junior EWU mechanical engineering major, said.

With calculus classes being extremely difficult already, the lack of proper help could really make one’s life hell. Falling behind in math classes is probably one of the hardest things to come back from due to new material being presented on the daily. If one can’t get help on prior work when they are struggling, the probability of them passing decreases every day.

Though some students express frustration, the employees at the Math Lab insist that there are people there who can provide help.

“I would say something like 85 percent [can help with] calculus,” said EWU senior and Math Lab employee Armand Mauro. “[Calculus] three and up is where it goes down to a handful, at least with the people that I personally work with. I know nine including myself that are able to help. For the abstract math, for example modern algebra, continuous and advanced calculus, there are three or four that I personally work with who are able to [help].”

Seeing how most tutors in the Math Lab should be able to help with math up to calculus two, the main problem must lie in the communication. This could also be said about the higher levels of math too. With at least nine tutors with the ability to help higher level math students, there shouldn’t be a problem.

“I think it would be a good idea if they had someone who was [able to help with] advanced math and they had a scheduled time they were in there and they would send that time out to people who were in the higher level classes so they know when to go in,”  Alleman said.

This could be a viable solution to the problem. With a set schedule for when certain tutors should be in the Math Lab, there shouldn’t be any more confusion as to where the help is. However, the problem could then be times not working out for some students. With more potential problems, the best solution could be to get a tutor of your own, but even that’s difficult to do.

“I think that the plus tutoring center usually has tutors who are able to tutor high level math but for their system they don’t have walk-ins so it’s based off of getting a tutor at the beginning of the year and then working with them for the rest of the year,”  Mauro said.

Most students don’t realize they will need help in a class on the first day. For those who only need help for a particular section being taught two months into the quarter, finding a tutor could still prove to be a challenge.

With that being said, Mauro recommends using the Khan Academy and PatrickJMT resources on YouTube if students can’t find other forms of help. He claims they are great for higher level math because they explain things incredibly well and they helped him when he was taking calculus four.

EWU’s reputation for being unsatisfactory when it comes to the math department may be somewhat harsh, but with the difficulties some students are having, it’s not completely uncalled for. With confusion coming from the main resource math students have, it makes sense that some students are heated about the situation.

Though tutors are available, the lack of communication between the Math Lab and students, and the fact that the best option is to get a tutor at the start of the quarter when you aren’t even sure you need one, is the real problem when it comes to higher level math.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Math Lab contributes to department’s bad reputation”

  1. Killian on November 22nd, 2016 11:16 pm

    How hard is it to create a grammatically correct headline? Why does the Easterner consistently lack professionalism?

  2. Jordan Perry on November 28th, 2016 11:49 am

    What exactly are you referring to as the headline reads fine to me and has been approved by our copy desk?

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Math Lab contributes to department’s bad reputation