Many College Students Stuck At 9th Grade Math Level, Professors Blame Pandemic

 College students are struggling with basic math, and their professors say remote learning during the pandemic is to blame.

At George Mason University, Temple University, and other colleges across the country, students are arriving unprepared and have to go back and learn the basics.

Many college students are still at a ninth-grade level in math. A freshman student entering college this fall would likely have started ninth grade in 2019, just before COVID forced schools to pivot to remote learning.

Some colleges have even found that engineering and biology majors are struggling with basic concepts like fractions and exponents.

At George Mason University in Virginia, an alarming number of students have been arriving on campus with gaps in their math skills, the Associated Press reported.

About 100 students decided to spend a week of summer break at George Mason for Math Boot Camp, brushing up on their math skills. The school started the camp to help students who were struggling after the pandemic.

Fewer George Mason students were placing into calculus, and more were failing.

“This is a huge issue,” Maria Emelianenko, chair of George Mason’s math department, told the Associated Press. “We’re talking about college-level pre-calculus and calculus classes, and students cannot even add one-half and one-third.”


One of the Math Boot Camp students, Diego Fonseca, 19, said he only studied algebra during remote learning.

“I didn’t have a hands-on, in-person class, and the information wasn’t really there,” Fonseca said. “I really struggled when it came to higher-level algebra because I just didn’t know anything.”

Before the pandemic, Fonseca had excelled in honors physics and computer science.

Temple University has a math problem as well.

Before COVID, about 800 Temple students a semester were placed in the school’s intermediate algebra class, essentially ninth grade math, which is the lowest option for STEM majors. By 2021, close to 1,400 students were being placed there.

On a quiz in the intermediate algebra class last year, students were asked to subtract eight from negative six. No two papers had the same answer, and none of the answers were correct, said Jessica Babcock, the Temple University math professor who teaches the class.

“I graded a whole bunch of papers in a row. No two papers had the same answer, and none of them were correct,” Babcock said. “It was a striking moment of, like, wow — this is significant and deep.”

Temple’s math chair Brian Rider said, “It’s not just that they’re unprepared, they’re almost damaged.”

“I hate to use that term, but they’re so behind.”

Iowa State University, which has a prestigious engineering program, saw falling grades and more students ending up in lower math classes in 2020.

Meanwhile, students in grade school have seen their reading and math proficiency plummet and are still struggling. In some cases, they may actually be doing worse than before COVID.

Last month, a study showed that fourth through eighth-grade students made even slower progress in reading and math last year than before the pandemic, dashing hopes that kids would learn faster to make up for learning loss during COVID.

Many College Students Stuck At 9th Grade Math Level, Professors Blame Pandemic Many College Students Stuck At 9th Grade Math Level, Professors Blame Pandemic Reviewed by Your Destination on September 01, 2023 Rating: 5

No comments