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One Way to Smooth Transitions to College Mathematics

Much discussion is occuring regarding the transition of high school students to college environments. Part of the discussion includes the need for a student to be prepared to take additional mathematics on the college-level...without having to retake mathematics courses equivalent to the content they supposedly studied in high school.

To clarify the discussion and help in this transition, the University of Iowa offers its web site Math Matters. It's goal is to help high school students understand both the level and kind of mathematics preparation required for a range of majors specific to the University of Iowa.

The aides and information offered include:

  • Quizzes and tutorials in the areas of arithmetic, algebra, analytic geometry, trigonometry, logarithms, and exponents
  • A mathematical dictionary
  • Course descriptions and sample final exams for mathematics courses up through the first term of calculus
  • A list of possible majors and for each major, the required mathematics courses and a brief description of the mathematics topics needed as prerequisites for success in these courses
  • Two different statements about the use and abuse of calculators...and why the use of calculators on the college-level may differ from the use of calculators at the high school level
  • An interesting statement and argument as toi why "More Math Is Good"
Though this web site offers a lot of useful information, a word of warning is in order. Do not assume that all colleges and universities approach their mathematics classes the same way. That is, each institutions' exams will differ in their scope, their level of difficulty, their focus on skills vs. concepts, and their use of calculators. But, the need for a strong mathematics preparation is a common goal across all post-secondary programs, as well as the growing need for mathematical proficiency in almost every college major (unfortunately, for some, the mathematics course is still used as a filtering device!).