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Math Pathways Initiative Is in Full Swing

KBIA file photo
Columns on the University of Missouri campus

Colleges around the state have started to offer new math courses in response to the Missouri Department of Higher Education’s Math Pathways initiative.

The initiative is designed to give students math classes that are more appropriately aligned with their programs of study. Some colleges no longer require college algebra for students who don’t need higher level math classes. Rusty Monhollon, who oversees the Math Pathways initiative, said these alternative courses should not only set them up for academic success, but also for career success.

“I think we’ve been failing students by not giving them the kind of mathematics content and knowledge they need to be successful in their own lives and in their careers,” Monhollon said.

In response, the University of Missouri has started offering a new course for students called quantitative reasoning. Students who don’t need college algebra as a prerequisite for higher level classes are encouraged to take quantitative reasoning as an alternative. The course was announced during the spring 2017 semester and is now being offered on a regular basis. Mathematics Department chair Nakhle Asmar said the department has been evaluating the course’s success throughout the semester.

“Students love it,” Asmar said. “I talked to instructors that teach this course, and they tell me they’ve never taught a course where the students are such lively participants in the course.”

Asmar said the university also plans to replace intermediate algebra with a new co-requisite course in the future.

Monhollon said the initiative has received great support on campuses throughout the state and that colleges see the need for specialized math courses.