College algebra should not be a required course for students
The fact behind the students to undergo college algebra is either to fulfill the college requirements or the state requirements. Studies show that the most of the students, who have forced to take college algebra, is irrelevant in their future. On the other hand the course itself is uninteresting and has become a road block to obtain a college education.
With the invention of digital calculator and the Graphical calculator it has become very simple or rather handy for each and every student to solve critical calculations and graphing without prior knowledge of graph plotting mechanism. So the use of calculus has become irrelevant for the students unless he want to go for higher studies in Mathematics. Studies show that due to the college algebra curriculum half a million students are not able to graduate per semester. Hence, through this paper I would like to state that College algebra should not be required course but can be modified to bring interest in students.
Reason for not keeping it as a mandatory course
This has happened because of lack of understanding of the education department about the career goal of the student. So a better approach should be taken by the education department to provide students a curriculum by understanding the student’s future needs which will help them to solve practical problems rather than preparing them to learn the Calculus.
To satisfy the current need of the students, College Algebra needs to be evolved in terms of their content and use in the real life scenario. Problem in the curriculum should depict the real world situations, emphasizing more on modeling and elementary data analysis. This will allow majority of the students who do not have an intention to enter into a math- intensive program in future.
The role of College Algebra
As per the curriculum the College Algebra is a stepping stone into the Calculus. It gives a clear understanding about the Factorizing linear and quadratic polynomials, Partial Fractions, Radical expressions, System of equations etc. The curriculum of this College Algebra has been introduced long back when people didn’t have Digital Calculator or Graphical Calculator and students need to use their personal manipulation skills to solve the problems and get prepared themselves for Calculus. Today, however these course has gone out of date because of the fact that Calculators and computers has been invented which are helping the students to solve the complex calculation in a blink of an eye.
In spite of having different complex calculation in College Algebra, it fails to provide complete exposure to real life problems. The real life problems talks more about Modeling business solutions, interpretation of real world data or constructing a budget, design a schedule optimize the procedure to gain maximum output etc. The calculations that these real life problems generates can easily been done using a Calculator or a Computer and here the main goal is to solve the problem strategically rather than going for too much complex calculations.
The consequences of College Algebra
Most of the students believes that the College Algebra course is boring and torturous course which rather than helping student to become a better citizen, forcing them or rather discouraging them to avoid the advanced mathematics learning. The major consequences of this problem is that students is keeping a life long misunderstanding of the College Algebra as it is difficult to understand and so it has become the terminal mathematics course for maximum number of students.
The need of an alternative College Algebra course is very important because of the fact that traditional College Algebra is blocking the students from future academic opportunities as they are finding it difficult to learn and so difficult to pass in the exam.
So it is very important to have an improved curriculum in College Algebra which will empower all students to become competent and a confident solver of problem. Rather than going for calculation intensive problem more emphasis should be kept on the real time scenario where a student can enhance the conceptual understanding and can use the Calculator or Computer to do the complex calculations.
Looking at the current needs of the society the traditional College Algebra doesn’t have the potential to fulfill it. Based on the future needs of the students, the College Algebra needs to be restructured in both the content as well as in terms of pedagogy so that it can create confident problem solver. On the other hand an improved College Algebra course will help majority of the students who really do not want to involve themselves in Math intensive programs in their future. In another way if education department takes adequate steps to make College Algebra as optional subject so that students who really don’t want to go for math intensive career can really avoid the College Algebra as part of their curriculum. In a nutshell we can say that the College Algebra should either be evolved to satisfy the students’ future needs or need to be made optional for better future of the students.