Today, more than basic math skills are required to obtain a high school diploma and graduate college, which can present a major barrier for students. Students in high school and most, if not all, college majors also have to pass algebra and some basic and intermediate statistics. Many people struggle with these courses.
Based on recent statistics, one out of five ninth graders does not finish high school, and the number one reason for this is failing the math requirements. In on one study of the Common Core mandated algebra requirement, 57% of students failed this course.
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These figures make it all the more ironic that the math required for traversing these essential rites of passage might be exaggerated. The New York Times recently claimed that very few people actually need advanced math; 5% of us, to be exact. “Collages do require math to get in, much more than their students will actually need.
It’s a ‘rigor’ ritual that makes them feel better about themselves” claims Andrew Hacker, political science and quantitative reasoning professor at the City University of New York. Despite the perception many of us have of computer coders as math geeks, that isn’t true either, according to Hacker, who states “You don’t need that kind of math for coding. It’s not a building block”.
So while advanced math is not necessary in 95% of the jobs positions that future graduates will occupy, institutional and national requirements mandate this unnecessary math which is preventing a significant portion of students from reaching their potential. While revamping math requirements may seem like a logical aim, in the meanwhile that they don’t change, students need help so that math doesn’t become a barrier to their goals. So what is the student to do?
This is Where Finding a Math and Statistics Tutor Comes In
Advanced math courses, which include algebra, probability, and statistics, create stress and self-confidence conflicts in a significant percentage of students. Based on goal theory and motivation theory, if students find a statistics tutor to help with these advanced math subjects, it can be an essential element to their success, for reasons beyond the mere technical help that such a tutor provides.
A good stats tutor, for example, will help the student to see statistics as an interesting and useful idea. He or she will focus on the emotional and intellectual orientation of the student towards learning stats as rather than only the technical skills. Mastery orientation is where students set “the goal of learning and mastering the task according to self-set standards” and the learner is focused on “developing new skills, improving, and acquiring additional knowledge” (Hsieh, 2011).
Tutors will help students to focus on these emotional goals and gain satisfaction from acquiring new knowledge in math rather than focusing narrowly on the tasks. Having a tutor also works with the student’s motivation, because he or she no longer feels alone and unaccompanied. The energy and self-confidence of the math teacher or tutor can be transmitted to the student so he or she feels more confidence and efficacy.
This, in turn, leads students to feel more motivation for learning advanced math because they no longer experience it as painful, but as pleasurable and gratifying. It helps with the tutor sets goals that are reachable by the student in a short period of time, rather than the potentially more difficult goals set by the student’s academic math class.
The Role of Small Goals
Self-perception theory, which states that people construct their identities based on observations of their own actions and accomplishments, indicates that success with small goals will translate into the necessary attitude for succeeding at loftier math goals necessary for passing advanced math.
And coming back to what seems like the arbitrariness of these requirements, what is the aspiring high school or college graduate to do? Most people struggle with math, and most of those who struggle with stats and other advanced math will never need it to be successful in their careers.
While those requirements don’t change, if they ever will, getting the right help from a math and stats tutor will help make sure you succeed. They don’t only teach you math, they accompany you and make sure your talents get a chance to shine. And, who knows, you may end up liking math, including statistics, which is what happened to me! I just needed someone to explain it to me well and not make me feel like a complete math failure. I found that person, and today I love math and all of its intricacies. Plus, I passed all my math classes and have a great career.
Hsieh, P. H. (2011). Mastery Orientation. In Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development (pp. 915-916). Springer US.