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Making Math Likeable

On the first day of class, math instructor Mary Pat Rohde tells her students to simply forget about all the math classes they have taken in the past.

The subject, she says, draws the most first day jitters and often is the least liked of nearly any Bryant & Stratton College class.

“Usually students have had a bad experience with math,” she said. “But it’s all stuff that can be overcome. Maybe you’re not great at math, but it doesn’t mean you have to hate it.

“One of my goals is to make it so you don’t hate coming to math class,” Rohde said.

Most of her students are enrolled in pre-college math or Math 101. Her first step is to “break down the walls they’ve put up,” she said.

To make her students feel more at ease, Rohde uses humor to break the ice. Her classes are hands on, after she does several example problems for the whole class, she moves from student to student to make sure they understand.

And, she never requires anyone to solve a problem at the board in front of the entire room.

“Show me on paper first so I know there is no fear, I don’t want fear,” she said.

Rohde also tries to integrate math that they will encounter in their future careers. She creates worksheets with problems they will actually have to solve as a medical assistant, business major and more.

So far, Rohde said her approach has worked.

“I’ve had a lot of students tell me when they leave class that they still don’t like math, but we’ve made it better,” she said.


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