Friday, October 14, 2011

If You Hate Math - Vol State Offers New Solutions

Professor Caldwell teaching
I have been dreading math next semester.  Of course, part of my problem is that I have not exercised my math skills since high school (and even then, I wasn’t that confident).  However, I was pleased to find out that Vol State is working on ways to help students who do not feel prepared to tackle algebra on the first day of class.  Department Chair for Mathematics Kim Caldwell recognizes that many students suffer from things like “math anxiety,” or maybe they are just rusty.  With her colleagues she has been working on this age-old problem, and one promising solution involves what are called Learning Support classes, which students take in the Learning Commons.

“We have redesigned the math program so all the entry level students are using the same book, the same code, and the same online learning system,” said Caldwell.  “This encourages them to move as quickly as possible.  The math components are broken into five competencies, and students who have more time on their hands can move ahead.  The pace of a formal classroom won’t restrain them.  If they don’t finish all the competencies in one semester, that's okay because they can pick up where they left off.  This helps students to go as fast as they want to.”

The Newly remodeled Learning Commons
Carolyn Harlan is a mathematics specialist and has focused on helping both new and returning students who felt that they needed a little help getting acclimated to attending college. 

“The theory was just to get students to college level math quicker,” said Harlan.  “This may shave off a whole year if a student is able to move through the program.  If somebody could not get into a specific class, they may be able to  come to the Learning Commons.  We have already had students move up to the next level this semester, and that was just in the first five weeks.”

The new Learning Support classes are required for students who score below a certain level in testing. They're also held in Reading and English.

For more information about Learning Support classes visit the web page: www.volstate.edu/LearningSupport

The Learning Commons can also help with test preparation and other skill improvement. You can visit them in Warf 126 for details.

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