Developmental Math Labs Taking Shape During Summer Construction Season

Memorial_Math_Classroom_Page_3_Image_0001CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 9, 2014 – Developmental math labs at the center of a redesigned math curriculum launching at Southeast Missouri State University in the fall are taking shape this summer as construction in Memorial Hall progresses.

Work on the project began April 14 that ultimately will result in a 2,600-square-foot math classroom with 60 computer stations, an 842-square-foot math tutoring center with 13 computer stations and a 447-square-foot math breakout room which adjoins the math classroom, according to Shelly Windeknecht, Facilities Management project manager.

The math center is on the first floor of the building in the area just inside the foyer and in the area that originally served as a ballroom.

Abatement and interior demolition have been completed, and Zoellner Construction has begun renovations, including new electrical, HVAC and lighting systems, said Angela Meyer, director of Facilities Management. Work is scheduled to be completed Aug. 1 in preparation for fall semester classes which begin Aug. 25, she said.

The new math lab and redesigned math curriculum are part of an effort to help students graduate more quickly, according to Dr. Tamela Randolph, chair of the Department of Mathematics.

The new developmental math labs will be associated with Logical Systems mathematics courses, so students can learn the developmental mathematics they need while enrolled in a Logical Systems mathematics class, Memorial_Math_Classroom_Page_2_Image_0001Randolph said.

Under the redesign, some content from developmental algebra and intermediate algebra courses that previously were each three credit hour courses will now be delivered in a one-credit hour lab which meets for two hours each week that students will take simultaneously with a Logical Systems course.

Logical Systems courses are a group of entry level mathematics courses that are part of Southeast’s University Studies general education curriculum.

The mathematics curriculum redesign is a component of Southeast’s participation in the 2013 Missouri Completion Academy, sponsored by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education and Complete College America (CCA). CCA is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to working with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.  The Academy offered participants strategic planning support as they work toward large-scale, high-impact strategies to improve completion on their campuses.

The Department of Mathematics pursued redesigning the developmental mathematics curriculum after a University team considered the matter at the Missouri Completion Academy last summer. The Missouri Completion Academy offered participants recommendations on reducing time to complete a degree, tackling developmental education and implementing flexible strategies to ensure student success.

Memorial HallDr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success and dean of students, says the Missouri Completion Academy is important as a part of a larger nationwide effort to increase the proportion of Americans with high quality degrees, certificates or other credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

Randolph said national statistics indicate that students who take developmental math courses are not graduating at the rate of other students. For every one developmental class a student takes, the likelihood of that student graduating diminishes by 50 percent, she said. While these numbers have not been calculated at Southeast, Randolph says they will be studied after the redesign is complete to evaluate its effectiveness.

Southeast hosted a Math Summit in March with 12 institutions sending teams to participate. Southeast math faculty shared information about the department’s developmental mathematics redesign with colleagues from other two- and four-year institutions of higher education across Missouri.

The new math lab and redesigned math curriculum are a welcome addition to the Department of Mathematics, Randolph said.

“It is going to speed up their progress toward graduation,” she said. “It’s going to be like a shot in the arm when you need it best.”

Thirty-nine percent of Southeast beginning freshmen come to the University needing a developmental math course, she said.

In the new 60-station interactive mathematics lab, students will use electronic textbooks that  incorporate video and participate in lectures. Students will work through homework on the computer which will provide a self-checking mechanism.

“I see it being interactive,” Randolph said, adding faculty members are now spending a lot of time on course development for the launch in the fall.

“This summer is the last time developmental classes will be taught as they are now,” she said.