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Learning curves

USU offers many resources for those who are in danger of failing classes

staff writer

Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014 00:01

Many students struggle in general education classes, but help is available, according to Tiffany Tolman, peer advisor for the Academic Resource Center.


Some of the most commonly failed classes within the last 13 years at USU include Math 1010, Math 1050 and PSY 1010.


"PSY 1010 is a difficult course for a few reasons,” said Scott Bates, associate professor of psychology. “The first is that students expect the material to be easy. After all, psychology is perceived as ‘common sense.’ The reality is that psychology is a social science with many counter-intuitive results. The content is seen as easy. The content is not easy. Second, it is a very diverse course with content ranging from neuroscience and brain function to social interactions, to the nature of intelligence, to the social-scientific method. The field is broad, and so is the course."


Christopher Corcoran, assistant department head for the mathematics and statistics department, said Math 1010 and 1050 are failed because the Quantitative Literacy requirement at USU is fairly narrow in what students can take. He said they are required as prerequisites, so students have to take them.


“Math 1010 and 1050 are heavily enrolled,” Corcoran said. “There are 600 students taking Math 1050 every semester.”


He said about 4 percent of the student body as a whole takes Math 1050 each semester, and 8 percent of credit hours over an average student’s academic career are in the mathematics and statistics department.


Linda Skabelund, head of the math advising office, helps students to get into classes they need and want.


“You go to any state university and you will be taking Math 1010 and 1050 unless you have an AP score or high placement score,” Skabelund said.


Corcoran said the advising office was created was to help students with QL requirements and math for their majors. He said another tool used to help students get into the right math class is the math placement exam.


“We figured that if you took the exam and took the class that you placed into that students had a higher success in that class,” Corcoran said. “The placement exam overall saves students a lot of money.”


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