New math class helps students get to college level

math graphics
Matthew Reitveld / The Watchdog

Bellevue College will be introducing a new math literacy course next fall quarter, Math 078. Math 078 includes the essential background information required for students to be able to perform well in Math 107 and Math 130, which includes bits and pieces of Math 097, Math 098 and Math 099. The class will cover how to evaluate mathematical expressions, how to solve formulas and interpret relationships, how to create linear, exponential and quadratic models of data, how to construct graphs and charts of data and algebraic models, how to apply proportional reasoning, and how to explain decisions and quantitative results based on mathematical reasoning.

This class will offer an alternative pathway for students to work up to college level math. Right now, Bellevue College offers an algebra intensive pathway with Math 097, Math 098 and Math 099. From Math 99, students can go to Math 107 and Math 130. With the new class, Math 078, students will be able to skip Math 097 and Math 098 and go right into Math 107 and Math 130.  “If you know you want to do just Math 130, or just Math 107, here is a one quarter refresher with just the material to prepare you for those two classes” said Bellevue College mathematics teacher Andria Villines.

“It’s been a national trend to do pathways, to get students to college level math quicker. The analogy is if you think about a pipeline, we want to send students on into college level class, but we know that the pipeline leaks. Even students that pass the class don’t always register for the next one. If we can shorten that pipeline and get students to their college level classes faster, the better chance they have of getting their degree,” added Villines.

“The research shows that one good thing to get students to college level math faster is shortening the pipeline, another one is making sure we answer the question of ‘why do we need this?’ so that the math is done with a focus on why you would need to use it, so that hopefully it’s motivating and interesting, and it should feel different from a traditional math class,” Villines added. The class will emphasize real life application, which is referred to as math literacy.

“Just like how you can look at a newspaper and read the words, we want people to be able to look at graphs, we want people to make predictions based on a limited amount of data,” Villines added.

Students wanting to transfer to the University of Washington should note that Math 078 will not satisfy the University of Washington’s immediate algebra transcript requirement. “The ideal candidate for Math 078 knows they are not going to UW, or already has intermediate algebra somewhere on their transcript,” stated Villines.

The math department at Bellevue College decided to add this class. Teachers had been going to national conferences and looking at the data on redesigning math courses before making the decision to add Math 078.  A group of previous Math 107 and Math 130 teachers drafted the course curriculum.