Students struggle with numbers at college: Research

One-third of Ontario high school graduates are failing or struggling with math in their first term at community college, putting them at an "unacceptable risk" of dropping out, new research shows.



A study of more than 10,000 students who entered college in 2006 across the GTA discovered 34 per cent scored a D or F in first-term math, a showing so poor technology and business programs are scrambling to offer more than one-third of incoming students catch-up courses in topics from fractions, algebra, ratio and proportions to linear functions, trigonometry, geometry and using a scientific calculator.



And it is not just that students can’t do the math — it’s that many pick the wrong math courses in high school, courses that don’t offer rigorous enough preparation, according to the College Mathematics Project led by researchers at Seneca College.

More than half the students who took Grade 9 and 10 math at the more hands-on "applied" level ended up landing a D or F in first-term college math, compared to just 28 per cent of students who studied at the more abstract "academic level."

solid skills

  • The study calls on both schools and families to realize college programs need solid math skills, especially in business and technology.