COVID-19

Technology Champions: Jonathan Brucks and Cynthia Roberts

  • A Word From the Chair...
  • UTSA has an Emergency Financial Aid Information and application available at: https://onestop.utsa.edu/financialaid/special-circumstances/emergency-aid/ https://utsafuturerr.formstack.com/forms/emergency_aid_application If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, please use these resources.
  • UTSA Introduces Student Laptop Lending Program.
    • To reserve a laptop and schedule a pick-up time, students should contact the Tech Café at techcafe@utsa.edu or 210-458-5555.
  • Math Lab: The Math Lab is open and free to all UTSA students enrolled in a mathematics course. Upper division undergraduates and graduate students are available to help with any math questions. Students taking a developmental math course, algebra, pre-calculus, or calculus I are especially encouraged to take advantage of this free opportunity. The Math Lab will be doing online tutoring through Zoom.
  • WeBWorK Student Exam Tutorial. Duration: 11:08 min. Step-by-step tutorial on how to access tests online using the WeBWorK platform. By Sean Beatty.
  • Virtual Office Hours Tutorial for Students: A short video on how students can access virtual office hours and recordings of sessions in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Duration: 2:55 min. By Jonathan Brucks.
  • GoBoard Introductory Tutorial for Students: A brief tutorial on a free way to connect with classmates, tutors, and instructors that includes a shared whiteboard, text/audio/video chat, screen sharing, and tools to help display math formulas and calculations. Duration: 4:51 min. By Jonathan Brucks.
  • How to screen record from your iPad .Duration: 1:47 min. By Cindy Roberts.
  • Moving your SHORT SNIPPET recoring (video) file to Blackboard from iPad. Duration: 1:47 min. By Cindy Roberts.
  • Proctorio (if anyone is interested in the browser lockdown): How to enable Proctorio and setup up for use of Blackboard quizzes and/or exams. Duration: 4:23 min. By Cindy Roberts.
Many students have expressed concern about the decision of the Department of Mathematics to continue a letter grade scheme for the backbone courses in STEM.  We are acutely aware of the challenges our students face. We are also aware that some students would like to have relief from the challenges of life under current conditions. We  are approaching this matter with the highest regard for  our students.

  In general we designated terminal mathematics courses across multiple disciplines as pass/fail, for example MAT1023, “College Algebra with Applications”.

The mathematics courses that form the backbone for STEM have a different nature. The decision to go with a grade scheme was the consensus of a group of 50 faculty with an aggregated experience of nearly half a millennium teaching mathematics at UTSA, who met multiples times to discuss this issue. This decision was informed by analysis of one decade of undergraduate student performance data.  In summary, the points that drove this decision were:

  • A pass/fail according to our standard corresponds to D or higher.
  • There is complex web of pre-requisites that require a grade or C- or higher in mathematics courses. While UTSA will accept pass/fail to satisfy pre-requisites for our students, it was not clear when the decision had to be made that other institutions would accept these grades to satisfy pre-requisites. Actually, we cannot tell with certainty in this moment that all intuitions will. We have a substantial number of students who transfer, or drop and continue somewhere else.
  • All the evidence we have, studying a decade of data and tens of thousands of students, shows that a D-level student in, let say college algebra, will not survive the subsequent courses. The table below shows the averages for four years of data (2016-2019). The columns under the header AVERAGES show the average grade in subsequent courses for students who obtained a give grade in college algebra. Our grade scheme is available at https://onestop.utsa.edu/registration/student-records/grades/
 
AVERAGES
College Algebra Grade Precalc Calculus I Calculus II
A 2.85 2.61 2.23
B 2.04 1.85 1.66
C 1.44 1.5 1.41
D (these students had to retake the course) 1.49 1.5 1.3
Data for other courses follow the same trend. Among those subjects that show correlation, mathematics is the single subject with the largest correlation. There are other subjects in other disciplines that do not show this strong correlation between foundational courses and subsequent courses; most of them are pass/fail.

By allowing a pass/fail in backbone STEM courses, it is a statistical certainty that D-level students would face an insurmountable challenge in the subsequent course. And, instead of learning basic concepts by repeating the course, they would face more advanced concepts that would require even more involvement because of a weak foundation. The outcome would be worse.

We know that this answer might not be the most satisfactory one, but it is the best student-centered solution we found.  We knew that this decision to go with regular grades for courses in the STEM backbone was going to be very unpopular. The pass/fail in these courses would bring a short-lived relief and would create a bigger problem in just one semester. We recognize that for at least four years, all our courses will need to start with a review and gentle introduction due to the mathematical deficiencies introduced by this pandemic.

The list of courses with their grade option for spring 2020 are:
Course Title Allow C/NC grading?
AIM 6943 Internship & Research Project No
MAT 0203 Basic Mathematics default grade mode is C/NC
MAT 0213 Intermediate Algebra default grade mode is C/NC
MAT 1023 College Algebra w/App (Q) Yes
MAT 1043 Introduction to Mathematics(Q) Yes
MAT 1053 Mathematics for Business(Q) No
MAT 1073 Algebra-ScientistsEngineers(Q) No
MAT 1093 Precalculus(Q) No
MAT 1133 Calculus for Business(Q) No
MAT 1153 Essential Elem in Math I(Q) Yes
MAT 1163 Essential Elem in Math II(Q) Yes
MAT 1193 Calculus for Biosciences(Q) Yes
MAT 1214 Calculus I(Q) No
MAT 1224 Calculus II(Q) No
MAT 2113 Functions and Modeling(Q) No
MAT 2214 Calculus III(Q) No
MAT 2233 Linear Algebra(Q) No
MAT 3013 Foundations of Mathematics(Q) No
MAT 3103 Data Analysis & Interpret (Q) No
MAT 3123 Fundamentals Of Geometry(Q) Yes
MAT 3213 Foundations Of Analysis(Q) No
MAT 3613 Differential Equations I(Q) No
MAT 3623 Differential Equations II(Q) Yes
MAT 3633 Numerical Analysis(Q) Yes
MAT 4113 Computer Mathematical Topic(Q) Yes
MAT 4213 Real Analysis I(Q) No
MAT 4223 Real Analysis II(Q) No
MAT 4233 Modern Abstract Algebra(Q) No
MAT 4263 Geometry(Q) Yes
MAT 4303 Capstone Course for Math(Q) Yes
MAT 4353 Math Fdtn's Cryptography(Q) No
MAT 4913 Independent Study(Q) No
MAT 4993 Honors Research(Q) No
MAT 5043 Euclidean&Non-Eucl Geometry No
MAT 5103 Intro to Mathematical Analysis No
MAT 5123 Intro to Cryptography No
MAT 5183 Algebra II No
MAT 5233 Theory: A Complex Variable II No
MAT 5283 Linear Algebra No
MAT 5553 Harmonic Analysis No
MAT 5603 Numerical Analysis No
MAT 5973 Directed Research No
MAT 5983 Top in Appl. Math-Applied PDE No
MAT 6953 Independent Study No
MAT 6961 Comprehensive Examination No
MAT 6983 Master's Thesis No