Math at SFUAD

The Quadratic Equation. Photo by Lauren Eubanks

The Quadratic Equation. Photo by Lauren Eubanks

For many students who decide to pursue a degree at SFUAD, the study and practice of math is not a high priority. The absence of a math class requirement has been one of the school’s biggest attractions, especially for students who may not have proficient skills in such areas. However, the introduction of the Bachelor of Business Administration in Art, Entertainment and Media Management program has brought math classes to SFUAD. These are now taught by the chair of the department, Brad Bergsbaken.

Bergsbaken began teaching at SFUAD in 2014, after teaching many classes at The University of New Mexico. After multiple semesters of teaching Economics and accounting classes at SFUAD, Bergsbaken was offered a full time position as chair of the department. Bergsbaken admits that when he began teaching math classes to art students, he found the transition challenging. However, he was pleasantly surprised by what was brought to the classroom by those who took the courses.

Brad_03“I was delighted by the creativity that the students use,” Bergsbaken says. “Yes, they were nervous about the math side of things. A lot of people are turned off from math in high school, typically due to one bad math experience.”

Bergsbaken feels that he alleviates his students’ fears through his approach and the practical application he introduced with the concepts being taught. His initial challenges came from presenting the material to students who were not as mathematically prepared as those he had taught at UNM. However, Bergsbaken feels that the challenge was good for him and that the students were able to apply skills in ways that he had not witnessed much when the majority of his students were economics undergrads.

This semester, Bergsbaken is teaching three classes: ‘Mathematics for professionals,’ ‘Principals of Accounting’ and ‘Business Statistics.’ Austin Ross, a film major who is taking Mathematics for Professionals this semester admits that even though he does not enjoy doing math, he likes the class because it has challenged him and refreshed his critical thinking abilities.

“The class has been very cool because Brad is very accommodating yet still holds a high standard to the learning,” Ross says. “The math isn’t easy by any means, but if you work hard and do the homework you can understand it.”

Darnell Thomas, a student in the 'Mathematics for Professionals' class. Photo from Jackalope archive.

Darnell Thomas, a student in the ‘Mathematics for Professionals’ class. Photo from Jackalope archive.

Graphic Design student Darnell Thomas concurs. “I mean I never wanted to take a math class, let alone expected take one, but Brad Bergsbaken makes learning math really fun and he is patient,” he says. “It’s nice when you get the hang of something you were once terrified of.”

Even if his students do not go on to a math-related career, Bergsbaken hopes to teach math as a tool that they will use every day. He is also eager to help his students stop “fearing” math, and view it as a creative tool rather than a frightening obstacle. He went on to say that he has never met someone who wasn’t good at math at one point, and that once students get into the problem solving aspects of what he teaches, they do very well. For the future, Bergsbaken is excited to not only continue teaching classes at SFUAD, but to be more available to the students as the chair of his department. The department was recently approved to offer students a minor in entrepreneurship, which Bergsbaken encourages students to explore.

“Coming in, I really wanted to be as student focused as I could,” Bergsbaken says. “Why are we here? We’re here to educate young people so they can go out and get jobs, and the goal for me is to prepare them as well as I can.”