Southeast Mathematics Offering Fresh Appeal with New Classrooms, Revamped Curriculum

MathLabCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Aug. 25, 2014 – New math computer classrooms in Memorial Hall opened today as fall 2014 semester classes begin at Southeast Missouri State University.

The four-month project has resulted 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. The math center is just inside the foyer in the area that originally served as a ballroom.

“We are all excited about it,” said Dr. Tamela Randolph, chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Faculty members participated in training sessions the past two weeks to prepare for teaching in the new facility. Students are being introduced to the new facilities in their classes beginning today.

Furniture and computers were installed last week, marking the final stages of summer renovations to Memorial Hall, transforming the building’s first floor into math classrooms at the center of a redesigned math curriculum.

The new math classrooms and redesigned math curriculum are part of an effort to help students graduate more quickly, Randolph said.

The classrooms 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.

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 September. 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.

Dr. 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.

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.”

In the new 60-station interactive mathematics classroom, 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.