Students enrolled in college algebra today at the University of Louisiana at
Monroe have a distinct advantage over their predecessors in the form of the
innovative Mathematics Resource Center, located in the Hemphill Airway and
Computer Science Building.
With an eye to increasing student retention, the mathematics department took
the initiative to fully revamp the college algebra core courses for all freshmen, adopting the highly successful National Center for Academic
Transformation's Roadmap to Redesign philosophy. The concept embraces the
notion that even the highest quality students encounter challenges and
require support to transition successfully from one stage to another.
ULM students are required to take College Algebra with Review, a five-hour
course divided into group and individual instruction. Students meet twice a
week in small classes for lecture, followed by customized learning sessions
in the Mathematics Resource Center, where they use the most advanced
software system to complete homework, take quizzes and examinations, and
certify for each required level of achievement. Progress is marked by way of
three modules. Students must successfully complete the first before
advancing to the next in line.
Faculty and graduate students provide individual assistance while the software provides simultaneous, accurate feedback. The R2R approach allows
the students to know their grades right away; if needed, they can immediately repeat the module to continue building on their current knowledge. This will permit them to retain their skills, typically lost to a
large degree when students simply withdraw from a course and wait a semester
or more to repeat it.
Virginia Tech first piloted the mathematics R2R, and this mastery learning
style has so far provided an avenue for higher success rates. The usual
college algebra withdrawal rate at most universities averages at about 30
percent. Schools like LSU who have also adopted a similar mathematics
redesign have observed a substantial drop in withdrawals; settling to about
six percent this past fall semester. A noticeable shift in grade
distributions also resulted.
For more information, please contact Dale Magoun at firstname.lastname@example.org or