At the start of fall quarter 2013, students began taking classes in the new math lab. These online courses allow students to work at or above a minimum pace through the pre-college math courses.
Overall, the results, including passing grades and overall completion of classes, are not as high as math department faculty had hoped. Math lab classes have about the same passing rate as grounded classes with lecture.
These popular self-paced classes have filled with students each quarter, and students also return for following quarters. They allow students to quickly go through what they already know and focus on what challenges them.
How fast lessons and tests are completed is up to the student. They can work at the minimum pace, or faster. Some students have been able to complete multiple classes in one quarter through the math lab.
“In math lab students can work ahead,” associate professor Roya Sabeti said. “Students can finish classes early, or even finish two classes per quarter for no extra cost.”
Two quarters later, math lab instructors have introduced a few changes that will be implemented in the fall, including the addition of a lecture class.
This is part of a redesign of the math program. Instead of all pre-college math classes being in the math lab, one will be created as a lecture-based class. With the new setup, three of the pre-college math classes will be offered in the math lab where students can work at their own pace.
The fourth, Math 96, will be a lecture class because it is more interactive and students need to work at the same pace.
The reasons for the program redesign stem from the need to accommodate students.
“From the beginning we knew that the math lab classes were for self-motivated students. (The classes) have a minimum pace for people to keep,” Sabeti said. “This does not work for all students. Some need to be part of a lecture.”
Math lab students work on computers, but instructors are present during class hours and a tutor is available during open lab times.
In addition to rearranging the courses, the math lab instructors will use different software next year.
At the beginning of the school year, both Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses each began offering a math lab, each using different software. Instructors chose what software they thought would work best. Now, those at the Puyallup campus said the software the Fort Steilacoom campus has been using is better.
As a result, Puyallup will begin using Aleks software next year.
The math lab will continue to be an option for students in the future.
“The lab works best for students who can work independently without a traditional lecture,” professor Michelle Wolcott said. “Students need to be motivated enough to meet or beat test deadlines.”
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