Arithmetic Anxiety

Arithmetic Anxiety
January 27, 2016 Heather Penn

For some the start of a new semester brings excitement but for others that excitement can also bring fear, frustration or anxiety.  Some classes can cause students to hyperventilate, break out in hives or start sweating profusely. This fear can strike at any level be it freshman or senior.

Of particular concern, classes in a subject that must be passed to collect a B.A. degree at UAF

For some, dislike concentrates on a particular type of math. But if this subject is not your forte– it’s any class, at any level, associated with mathematics.

David Alberg a computer science major has just started back at college after a 12 year stint in the military.  He sits in class attempting to absorb the needed material.  “Math is my worst subject,” he observes.

That is why he took Math 113.

The “math class for people who hate math,” said Kat Sorensen, the professor herding degree-seekers onward. Her course covers polling, and determining best routes that are time saving and less mileage.  “There is no algebra or geometry here.”

Sorensen estimates the success rate in this  and other first year math classes at around 30%.

“Students not having met pre-requisites or incoming freshman not having to work hard previously in a high school math,” may contribute to that, she said.

The low success rates are troublesome and the university has taken steps to help bring those rates up.  A “Math Bridge Program” was instituted three years ago at UAF, “to improve the passing rates of core math classes at UAF.  Since its induction, “approximately 85% of students who have completed MBP have passed a corresponding core math class.”

Though helpful for some, others may find that math will always be a struggle.  Keep calculating.

Heather Penn
Heather Penn is a senior journalism student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She has written for the Sunstar a student run paper, the local military paper and worked as an early morning correspondent for KUAC. Heather is an avid outdoors woman who seeks stories in everyday Alaskan living. She is a mother and wife who enjoys spending time with her family and writing.


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