Worried about that Math 1010 course this semester? How about that Introduction to Physics course looming in the background? College can be nerve-wracking, and it’s due in no small part to the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) general education courses that are required for most majors.
At Weber State, these tend to be the courses freshmen struggle with the most. With the help of fellow students and professors, however, these courses can be passed on the first try.
Dallin Dastrup, a recent Weber State graduate, experienced his own challenges with passing math. “It’s nearly kept me from graduation,” Dastrup said. He elaborated further that Math 1010 was his most difficult course.
“I took it twice in high school and twice in college,” Dastrup said. “1030 has also been a struggle. I’m only passing because my wife is an awesome tutor.”
Dastrup also gave some tips on what helped him pass that math class. “I found a study group and created a relationship with the instructor,” Dastrup said. “Once I learned to utilize the instructor and came in before or after class when I had questions, my grades went up.”
Chase Dennison, a student who recently transferred to Weber, had similar thoughts. “Math is just one of those subjects I was never really good at, so I only did the bare minimum. Nowadays, it’s my worst and least favorite subject.”
Dennison mentioned that Introduction to Physics was a particularly hard class for him. “I am terrible with memorizing stuff, so all the equations for that class were killer,” Dennison said.
Passing that class was difficult for Dennison, but he had some advice that can be applied to other classes.
“I had to study hard,” Dennison said. “I have never been the greatest student and always passed by the skin of my teeth. But I knew if I wanted to pass this class, I had to put hours and hours of study into it. I had a ton of classmates help me with my studying as well.”
Jennifer Claesgens, director of Weber State’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education (CSEM), offered a few thoughts on the matter.
“Freshmen don’t take advantage of the fact that they can often elect which classes to take, so it feels like a requirement,” Claesgens said. “It feels like something they have to do versus what they might want to do. It’s harder to engage with the subject matter that way.
“Math just throws people for a loop. They tend to say, ‘I have to do this quantitative literacy thing.’ QL seems to be what students struggle with the most.”
For those freshmen and other new students staring down the barrel of STEM generals courses, Claesgens offered a few words of wisdom.
“A lot of times, it’s discipline,” Claesgens said. “Manage your time, attend your classes, give yourself time to study. Stick with it. Go to tutoring. Don’t give up because you’re better off flunking the course after attending every day than dropping it and starting again. Hang in there — you might surprise yourself.
“If the class has a supplemental instructor, go to those sessions. If not, try to get your own study group together. Schedule an appointment with your professor or just drop in during their office hours. They are truly there to help you.”
A lot of what goes into passing these courses is attitude as well as hard work.
Claesgens said, “Hit the ground running. Get in there and get it done. Don’t put it off. Just get it done because then doors start to open, and you might realize that, here at Weber State, your brain is thinking about math differently, and you might really like it.”