Pace Math Curriculum Stresses out Students


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Alexis Nieman, Media Editor

Required math courses are notorious for causing students stress and trouble. It is rumored that the fail-rates for math courses are higher than those of other classes. Many students complain about failing or having trouble with classes within the department. 

Popular majors on the Pleasantville campus that involve classes within the math department are accounting, business economics, biochemistry, health science, mathematics and more. Chair of the Math Department, Dr. Lisa Fastenberg, says that the content of the math classes is standard at Pace, but the way it is taught might differ.

“There’s not a lot of variation in what we can include in terms of content in these courses given that students need to use the math either in more advanced math courses or courses in their majors,” Fastenberg said. “We are trying to get students to think about the math they are learning rather than just plugging numbers into a calculator and getting an answer without understanding since we are hoping that students will be able to use the math they are learning in their careers and life. A lot of students are pretty resistant to this and math anxiety is pretty common as well.”

Chairs of departments are not provided with data on pass rates, so it is not clear what the actual numbers are. For each class, there are variations from semester to semester based on different instructors, student preparation and motivation, etc. Fastenberg is not aware of any courses that have consistently low pass rates.

“We are always working on improving student success and learning,” Fastenberg said. “In the last few years, we have added peer-led discussion sections to MAT 100 and 103A and standardized the courses so there’s less variation between sections, and generally put a lot of thought into how the courses are run. We also hope to introduce peer-led discussion groups next fall for MAT 102 so that students don’t need to take MAT 100 first. These are just a few of the changes that we’ve made and are planning for the next few years.”

A new change to a common course, MAT 102, will be in Spring 2020, with the faculty-led abroad program. For the first time ever, MAT 102 will be going to Greece for a nine-day program to learn the real-world models of mathematics after completing the course at Pace. It will be led by Dr. Fastenberg and Professor Buffone.