Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Don't Think This Course Meets the Requirements of Your Major

Today I finally went through the introductory surveys that I gave my gen-ed students. This class has the honor of being the lowest-numbered math class that counts towards the gen-ed requirements. We try to cover nifty math ideas that don't require much algebra. For example, I'm spending the entire class on Wednesday on the pigeonhole principle.

Two of my students are self-identified pre-meds. One of them is majoring in Bio-Agriculture Technology Sciences.

Every single student in my class responded "to fulfill a requirement" to the survey question "Why are you taking this class?"

I emailed the pre-meds suggesting that they double-check with a pre-med advisor to make sure that this class is really what they want to be taking. Additionally, I checked the web page of the Bio-Agriculture Technology Sciences department. They require calculus.

I've had trouble with Bio-Agriculture Technology Science advisors giving bad advice before (they seem to believe that any class with a low number will prepare you for any other class with a higher number in the same department -- even if they are on totally different topics), so I have no idea who to blame for this student being in my class. The other student is, I'm guessing, somewhat at fault. My official roll codes the student as "completely undecided" (we have different codes for different grades of undecided), and I'm guessing that the student never revealed to an advisor this whole pre-med plan.

And I do sort of wonder: If you're this bad at math that you ended up in the lowest numbered class that counts towards the math requirement, where we go out of our way to cover material that contains no algebra at all, how are you going to survive in the chemistry and physics classes that are required of pre-med students? And if you're good enough of math that you should be in a higher math class, why aren't you taking a more rigorous course to show the medical schools that you're able to handle real courses?