Most students can easily name the most difficult course they have taken at UTM. Some students believe that chemistry is the most demanding, while other students struggle with English or statistics.
While every student has a personal theory, records in the Division of Academic Affairs prove the five most failed courses from 2000-2003 are Math 070, Math 080, Music 120, Zoology 201 and Math 140.
Math 070 has a pass rate of approximately 60 percent. Math 080 is a close second with a 64.5 percent pass rate. These classes prepare students for 200 level math courses by giving them a background many didn’t develop in high school.
Math instructor Judy Gathers teaches Math 070, 080 and 140 courses and says that students don’t bring a good math education with them to college.
“Students didn’t learn to study and didn’t take the right courses. Some didn’t even take Algebra in high school,” Gathers says.
Gathers suggests that students often struggle in Math 070 and 080 because they do not attend class regularly and don’t do their homework. Students have numerous resources available for help with their practice homework.
The Math Lab is open four days each week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and teaching assistants are always available for extra help. Free tutoring in Clement Hall is also provided by the Student Success Center at scheduled times.
“Math 140 was really hard. I struggled with the class, but I got help from the Math Lab. They are good about helping you learn the information, and as a result, I did better in the class,” says Kristen Baker, a senior Marketing major.
Students may also request help from their instructor. Gathers says that each math instructor is required to have 10 office hours each week. Students can come by anytime to ask for help, yet few do.
Music 120 instructor Scott Roberts also encourages students to dedicate more time to practice. Fundamentals of Music is required for all Music majors and has a pass rate of 65.4 percent. Roberts says that most students struggle because the course involves a lot of time for drill and memorization.
“You can’t just listen in class and pick it up. Students must do homework and drill themselves,” Roberts says. “Learning music notes is like learning the ABCs. You can’t take an English literature course without training in grammar. Music is the same. You can’t take Music Theory without being able to read music.”
Zoology 201, Human Anatomy and Physiology, is the fourth most failed class, with a pass rate of 68.4 percent. Instructor Dr. Randy Cate credits much of the problem to students’ perception of the class.
“There is an expectation to do poorly. They’ve already heard that the class is difficult. That just about dooms you to failure,” he says.
Students also don’t study enough. Cate says the material is relatively difficult, and this course is widely known to be challenging at any university in the country.
Cate finds the large failure rate frustrating. He says that the questions on his tests come directly from the lecture notes. He also has office hours every week to give extra help.
While the top failed classes are composed of different instructors, different subject matter, and different grading scales, all have a common link. Students have to study regularly and attend class. When scheduling for next semester, students should plan for the study time necessary in these classes to do well.