“Will I Ever Even Use College Math!?” Scenarios and Insights from MTC Professors

“Will I Ever Even Use College Math!?” Scenarios and Insights from MTC Professors

A photo of Professor tyler Maley
Professor Tyler Maley

 Content contributed by Professor Tyler Maley & Adjunct Faculty Chris Leimbach

“I am NEVER going to use math.”  Unless you are contemplating a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) career, you have probably thought this at some time.  You may have even said it out loud… with enthusiasm… and anger.  You may have even silently breathed an “AMEN!” when reading it again.  So why do you need to learn math to earn a degree in nursing, social work, marketing, criminal justice, or physical therapy?  When are YOU ever going to need fractions, statistics, or scatterplots?

How to Save a Life – Math in Nursing

Consider the scenario where a child with diabetes comes into the hospital where you are working as a nurse.  Although the child has come in for something unrelated to  diabetes, you are responsible for administering the proper amount of insulin while the child is in your care.  The child weighs 44 pounds and the patient’s chart states to administer 44 units of insulin per day.  Knowing that the recommended dosage is between 0.5 and 1 unit/kg/day, do you administer the 44 units of insulin?  If you do, you may have just harmed your patient.  Unfortunately, in the fast-paced environment of a busy hospital, mistakes can happen.  A prescription can be handled five, ten, or even 50 times before a nurse administers it.  Knowing that 44 pounds converts to approximately 20 kg means that the maximum recommended dosage is 20 units.  Double-checking the dosage with the doctor or pharmacist could be the difference between a healthy patient and a patient with severe hypoglycemia.

What’s Your Angle Here? – Math as a Physical Therapist Assistant

A patient comes in with poor range of motion in his shoulder.  The patient can currently raise his arm about 10° above the horizontal plane.  Over the next eight weeks, you will work with him to get full range (90°) back in his joint.  After three weeks, the patient’s range of motion is at 25 degrees.  Because we wanted to see a constant progression, we would expect the patient to gain 10° of motion each week to hit the end goal of 90 degrees.  At week three, to stay on pace, we need the patient to be at 40 degrees, so this patient is well behind our pace.  Recognizing this early, you can talk to the patient about how often he is doing the home exercises and confer with the physical therapist to see if a different approach needs to be taken.  This early detection could greatly benefit the patient, rather than wasting an additional five weeks with minimal improvement.

The Game Is Afoot! – What math offers to all students

Beyond specific cases, problem sets, and lessons, mathematics requires the use of logic, problem solving, and critical thinking.  Think of a crime scene.  There are countless photographs taken, a multitude of evidence collected, an autopsy, and witness statements to siphon through.  A detective must decide what is relevant to the case and what is not useful.  Regardless of your profession, this is a useful skill – the ability to reason through information and only apply the needed information.  In mathematics, students learn this skill, especially when working through a story problem.  Maybe you won’t need to add fractions or find the area of a circle, but the same skills developed by working through these problems are the skills that employers value when a difficult problem arises.

Get To Next – How MTC prepares you for your future

Math can be a stumbling block for college students. MTC wants to help all of our students succeed.  Recently, our mathematics classes have been revamped to create a more streamlined plan for our students that is focused on practical skills.  Students who are not participating in a STEM degree program need only take one college level mathematics class to graduate.  The only exception is for those who need additional foundations to be successful at the college level.  These classes use real life situations and introduce real world technologies to the students.  These Non-STEM majors funnel into one of two classes: quantitative reasoning or statistics.

Prof. Tyler Maley teaching mathematics at MTC.

Quantitative reasoning allows students to explore mathematical topics encountered on a day-to-day basis.  Students will learn to communicate with numbers effectively through real-life problems and situations. Topics include ratios, rates, percentages, units, descriptive statistics, linear and exponential modeling, personal finance, and probability.

Statistics is an introduction to descriptive and inferential statistical methods including sampling, probability, point and interval estimation, hypothesis testing, and regression. Whether you will be looking at the weather forecast, the stock market, your risk of a disease, statistics helps you make better decisions.

If you plan to enroll or are currently enrolled in a math course at MTC and are interested in tutoring assistance, MTC offers free online, group, and one-on-one tutoring. Visit our Tutoring page to learn more.