Department of Mathematics

"Which General Education math course should I take?"

Advice on Some General Education Mathematics Courses

Dear Student,

If you were placed in one of the following General Education mathematics courses: Math 101, 102, 106, 123, or Stat 171 and need to decide which is the best for you, this document and conversation with our advisors will help you decide.

MATH 101

This is a course that broadens students' conception of what mathematics and its scope of applications is. The material also helps one's basic organizational and reasoning skills that can be of use in everyday life in a general way; it also encourages systematic thinking and good habits of the mind. You could learn to like the course if you are willing to learn something different from your likely present perspective that 'algebra' is all that math is about.

Take Math 101 if:

  • You could learn to like seeing new mathematical ideas rather than using skills and concepts from algebra courses you have seen in the past.
  • You could learn to like using common sense and logic to solve problems.
  • You could learn to like seeing several 'unexpected' applications of mathematics and learn a little about several deep areas of mathematics.
  • You could learn to like topics such as Set Theory, Logic, Probability, Statistics, etc.

MATH 102

This course is for students who can think logically in seeing mathematics applied in novel situations. The course does not have a lot of emphasis on algebra skills, and is appropriate for any student who is majoring in a field outside mathematics or the sciences. The topics are readily accessible, obviously applicable, aesthetic, and from 20th century mathematics.

Take Math 102 if:

  • You could learn to like seeing new mathematical ideas rather than using skills and concepts from algebra courses you have seen in the past.
  • You could learn to like applications bent toward social sciences with considerable time spent on the mathematics of 'voting'.
  • You could learn to like applications in business management sciences (but are not majoring in it), and are interested in efficiency.
  • You could learn to like application of mathematics involving civic matters.
  • You could learn to like those applications of the course (including Graph Theory) which are well-suited to thinking visually logically (through graphs).

MATH 106

Math 106 is designed for ALL Elementary, Early Childhood, Bilingual and Special Education majors. The mathematical concepts studied in Math 106 are the basics of our shool curriculum. Developing an understanding of the mathematics in the early school setting is fundamental before advancing to the mathematical methods courses.

Take Math 106 if:

  • You are majoring in Elementary Ed, or Early Childhood Ed, or Bilingual Ed, or Special Ed. (You will also need to take Math 206; it is the combination of Math 106 and 206 that will constitute as 3 hours in General Education in mathematics.)

MATH 123

Math 123 is for those who like learning more of algebra and its applications. It is for those who would take Math 128 as Gen Ed if it were allowed because the familiarity of algebra is comforting to them. It is a course with many excellent applications of algebra.

Take Math 123 if:

  • You are comfortable with algebra and are efficient at it.
  • You could learn to like working with a graphing calculator.
  • You could learn to like real-world applications of algebra to various subjects that you might use in your personal life or job.
  • You are majoring in secondary teacher education (of your choice) and need to strengthen your algebra skills to pass the Illinois State Basic Skills Test.

STAT 171

Today's environment requires people to know a little bit of statistics in their business, in their home, on the road, in the school, etc. Stat 171 could be a part of science classes every college student takes. Stat 171 will expose the students to the basic statistical rudiments necessary to be an informed member of society. Stat 171 is a course that teaches how to collect, organize, analyze, and make sense out of collected data. Need for basic algebra skills in Stat 171 is always present.

Take Stat 171 if:

  • You could learn to like how to read numbers/data correctly, make predictions, and drawing your own conclusions from it.
  • You could learn to like how the result of a survey, poll, or study makes or doesn't make methodological sense.
  • You could learn to like how the mean (or average) is not the most trusted measure that we should use in our daily lives.
  • Your major requires a course on statistical methods (it will be easier for you if you become somewhat familiar with the subject through Stat 171 first).

flow chart of courses