Graduate program phases out

By Kristie Hsin, Senior Reporter


The university made the decision to no longer admit new students into the Master of Science in Mathematics graduate program last June.

The program was under review for elimination due to its low graduation rate.

Nine other graduate programs including music and computer science were also under the umbrella for review. A graduate program went under review if the program had an average of fewer than 10 graduates per year, according to Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs Colin Ormsby. Those programs were identified for further study.

If a proposal to reinstate the Master of Science in Mathematics graduate program was made to and approved by the Graduate Affairs Council, the decision  would then be passed on to Provost Rex Fuller and then to President Arevalo for a final approval.

In 2009, the university underwent a two-year review of graduate program auditing.

According to Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs Ron  Dalla the review began with 17 graduate programs. By the second review year, there were 15 programs remaining including mathematics.

Over a five-year period,  the Master of Science in Mathematics graduate program had an average graduation rate of 4.28 students, according to Ormsby. Thus, the program was eliminated as part of the review process.

The only graduate students remaining in the program are those continuing their second or third year.

According to Dalla, the department looked at things such as the overall cost, the cost to deliver the program and the regional need for the program. The enrollment growth at the undergraduate level was also taken into consideration.

“You have this many faculty [members] and the numbers of faculty, because of the budget situation, was remaining relatively constant whereas the number of students, particularly undergraduates, were increasing. So the question is, how do  you direct your resources to deliver the quality education at all levels? That was certainly something we looked at,” Dalla said.

Over a five-year period,  the Master of Science in Mathematics graduate program had an average of 19 students per year, according to Ormsby.

“It’s really unfortunate,” said senior Chloe Fowler. “It’s not a student’s fault if their program of interest has less than 10 people, but I understand that it’s about budget and financing for the  whole.”

Fowler, a math and education major, plans to pursue a master’s in mathematics after graduation.

As part of the revisions, graduate students will no longer teach developmental courses such as math 103 and math 104 due to a decline in graduate students, according to Math Program Director Jane Lane. Instead, the department has hired four new instructors to teach pre-university level math courses.

In an effort to revise and  improve the department, students taking math 103 will use a software program called “Aleks.” The program will teach students the necessary skills and concepts they will need for the course.

“Aleks” is the web-based educational software equip  with assessment learning in math.

The software assesses a student’s knowledge and then determines what students need to tackle. The course is a 10-week long, five-credit class.

“The university has supported the department’s efforts to redesign the developmental mathematics program, and has invested in a computer lab dedicated to students enrolled in developmental mathematics,” math department chair Barbara Alvin said.

Incoming students are still required to take the math  placement test. Students who score within the Math 103 and Math 104 levels are placed in the “Aleks” courses.

“Students start learning where they need to be learning. Students progress at their own pace,” said Lane.“The potential is that students could complete their content earlier than 10 weeks.” Alvin said, “Students who exhibit extraordinary difficulties will be identified and invited to complete  the course using the “Aleks” software. …We are very excited about the efforts they  are making with the other faculty to develop a comprehensive program in developmental mathematics.”