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UWM to Unveil New Ways of Teaching Math, so it Makes Sense to Struggling Students


The university hopes its new method accommodates students who need to pass math, in order to graduate.

The subject has been holding some students back, even though they may not need it for their intended career.

Math has been a daunting subject for students like Andrea Chavez. “He didn’t explain it, in a manner that, it made sense,” Chavez says.

Chavez was planning to graduate from UWM this past May, but she failed her math class - a requirement for her graduation. “Which caused me to not graduate on time, which means that I now graduate in December of 2014,” Chavez says.

Chavez has been part of a trend at UWM, according to math Chair Kyle Swanson.

“By in large, students who are coming in testing two semesters below college level in math, only about a third of them would actually ever pass a college credit level math class at UWM,” Swanson says.

UWM’s new math system creates three new pathways, based on placement scores. Swanson says real world problems will be mixed in with math, to help students grasp math is in their lives.

“Mathematics is a language for describing the world around us,” Swanson says.

No matter what pathway students are assigned, they’ll experience a new style of teaching, according to Swanson. For instance, lectures will be a thing of the past.

“The classroom is going to be a much more interactive place than it has been. Students are going to be participating. It’s not going to be one of these sit back and fall asleep or texting during class,” Swanson says.

As for what student Andrea Chavez would change, she says, “I would first of all, get a professor who didn’t get frustrated with students who don’t have the same capability of math as a math professor does. (Then I would) Focus on what students weren’t going to get, because if he broke through that barrier, then you can go back and put the puzzle together.”

UWM will implement its math changes, with the new semester starting September 2.