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Incoming students struggle with math and writing skills

Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 14:02


Georgia State University Library

Incoming students lack college-level math and English skills.

Despite stricter admission standards at Georgia State, professors find that students still struggle with basic math and English skills.

 Many teachers, like English instructor Sara Hughes, find that many of their students are not prepared for college-level English and need to learn basic English skills.

"Some students have all the right grammar usage, however, [they] lack depth of thought or insight, while for others the insight and ideas are there, but the poor usage of mechanics and grammar confuses the idea," Hughes said.

Hughes expects her students to be able to write basic coherent paragraphs, but she often re-teaches material from high school and the 1101-level English Composition class.

"Sometimes students have not absorbed what they learned," she said.

Hughes acknowledges that the student body has a diverse educational background and that students may not have learned some concepts in high school.

Hughes suggests that for students to succeed in college English, they should retain and apply the information that previous English teachers have taught. She also encourages her students to read.

"The more you read, the better writer you will become. Students who read on their own time always do better on papers," she said. 

Overall, Hughes sees improvement in many of her students.

"By the end of the semester I see improvement across the board," she said.

Math modeling instructor Changyong Zhong also finds that many of his students are not prepared for basic mathematics. Since Math Modeling is typically taken by students who are not majoring in math or science, Zhong does not expect students to previously know high levels of math, but does expect them to know basic mathematical concepts like algebra.

"I expect them to know basics like basic linear equations. We have a diverse student body. Some students are prepared and others do not have basic algebra skills," he said.

Zhong often re-teaches material that he believes students should have learned in high or even middle school. However, he also acknowledges that since Georgia State does not have a traditional student body, some students are coming back to school after a long time and have forgotten math they previously learned.

"Some students struggle in this course. For some students, math is just difficult," he said.

For those students who struggle in math, Zhong suggests they review basic algebra from high school before going into classes. He also suggests that students do the assigned homework.

"Since it is not required to turn in homework, some students do not do it. But they need to practice enough," he said.

Zhong believes that high schools should make sure all students have a grasp of basic math knowledge.

"High schools should make sure everyone gets the basics and then college will be much easier for students. Some students say they never understood math until they got into college and now enjoy it," he said.

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