Precalculus Algebra: Original Purpose – Its Relevancy to Students’ Needs – and Some Suggestions
Our purpose of this paper is to discuss who should take Precalculus Algebra, not the content of the course. Precalculus Algebra was originally intended for students who would progress to Calculus. However, many non-technical degree programs now require their majors to take it, even though it may be a terminal math course for these students. A review of the mathematics curriculum at various universities was conducted in order to identify similarities and differences regarding this particular course. In addition, a student survey was conducted at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) to determine students’ majors, their motivation for taking Precalculus Algebra, their attitude toward it, and the number of times they had taken it, reflecting their long-term success or failure with the course and its concepts. The curriculum reviews and the student surveys led us to question whether we, in the education community, are providing math skills that are relevant to the future careers of the students who are taking this as a terminal course. We propose alternative solutions and content for the different tracks of students taking Precalculus Algebra.