The new Math Learning Center has arrived on campus, bolstering students’ skills and setting them on a path for success in college mathematics courses.
During the Spring 2020 semester, the MLC will offer limited resources in various locations throughout campus. In the fall, they will be located in a permanent location and offer a wider range of support, according to their website.
The MLC consists of four different types of activities all aimed with a different purpose in fostering critical math skills. First, the MLC offers help sessions, where students can do homework or ask questions with undergraduate tutors. Next, there is Hands On Grades Up which provides exercises to practice and discusses problems. Third, Week In Review are weekly lectures led by faculty members to help students better understand the material covered in their math class the previous week. Lastly, the MLC offers Reboot Workshops, which focus on a particular topic to bolster math skills in a particular area.
Paulo Lima-Filho, assistant provost for undergraduate studies and executive director of the Math Learning Center, hopes the new MLC will give students a free on-campus counterpart to other tutoring services.
“Our students resort to off-campus for tutor services over which we have absolutely no control in quality,” Lima-Filho said. “I have encountered many students who complain about paying a very high price tag and failed or got a low grade in the course. [The MLC] comes at no extra cost for students, it is all part of the infrastructure we provide for students.”
With the new MLC, Aggies should feel much more competent in math when leaving A&M than when they first stepped foot onto campus, Lima-Filho said.
“The ultimate goal, if I want to summarize the motto, with the new Math Learning Center an Aggie should no longer fear math,” Lima-Filho said. “Even if it’s not integral to your future career, we want students to feel competent in math when they leave the university.”
To measure the success of the MLC, Lima-Filho said they will focus on the specific rates of students who take a certain math course for the first time, such as ABC rates, which place a student in relatively good standing, and DFQ rates, which mean the student is not excelling academically.
“The university itself has DFQ and ABC rates,” Lima-Filho said. “We obviously want to lower the DFQ rates, but we are trying to focus on the ABC rates as it is a little more positive. We want to increase the percentage of students who the first time they try a particular course, they are successful.”
Jennifer Whitfield, an instructional associate professor in the department of mathematics, assists in hiring and training of tutors and staff, and said the MLC is necessary to support students in their math courses.
“Math is one particular subject where every student has to take six hours,” Whitfield said. “It’s more traditionally a difficult course, if you look at the data, through DFQ rates or what have you, you can easily see that students generally struggle more in mathematics than other types of courses.”
Another reason the MLC has come to campus is to combat any negative mental consequences that could arise from failing a math course early in a students’ college career, Lima-Filho said.
“The psychological impact of a student failing a math course early on is extremely detrimental to their success and progress,” Lima-Filho said. “To not perform maybe how you did in high school, that has a strong impact and if not properly addressed can lead to a continuous spiral downward in some students.”
The MLC will continue to provide assistance and new interesting ways to catch students’ attention and better help them comprehend mathematics, Lima-Filho said.
“Hopefully by the middle of the summer or middle of the fall, we are going to launch a companion website called the virtual math learning center,” Lima-Filho said. “This will be an all online resource where students are going to find information per course with lots of videos and a familiar outlook. It will provide a lot of information about the big mathematics courses. It will be self-guided study, and we hope students will continue to grow and evolve with it.”
To see courses covered by the MLC, locations, times, faculty, dates and other pertinent information, visit mlc.tamu.edu.