Math Resource Center offers homework lab

By Mallory Terrence
October 9, 2008

Cabrini College’s Math Resource Center offers more than tutoring for students who need extra help with homework and test preparation. The Math Resource Center is now offering students a Math Homework Lab that is required for students in MAT 114.

While the Math Lab was designed to help improve students’ understanding and performance in Math 114, the Math Homework Lab is a full class period devoted to helping student better understand class material and concepts.

Currently, three sections of Math 114 are required to take the Math Lab. For students that are in these courses, it is mandatory to attend the regular math class twice a week, as they scheduled last semester, and in addition they must also attend a math homework lab once a week.

At the beginning of the lab, students watch a PowerPoint and then they use that information to help with online assignments that must be completed through the computer software Wiley Plus. Diane Devanney, math specialist, or Jacquie Lavely, math tutor and a student classroom coach, run the weekly math labs to insure students understand the material.

“The purpose of it is to try to improve students’ understanding and performance in MAT 114, by giving them a structured environment in which they can practice problems with professional and peer tutors around who can help them if they have questions,” Dr. John Brown, head of the math department, said.

The Math Homework Lab is 20 percent of the student’s grade and they only receive credit for work if they attend the math lab. Otherwise they receive a zero for their work although the assignment can be completed though the Wiley Plus program.

“I feel like the math lab does help in some ways but confuses me in others. My lab has people in it from other classes and they are not as far along as my class is, so they are usually confused as to what is going on,” Leanne Marziani, sophomore English and secondary education major, said.

The Math Homework Lab was the collective idea of the Math Department, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

“We believe that by giving students an opportunity to practice skills they are learning under the direction of the Math Resource Center, these students will understand the material better and, therefore, perform better when taking major tests and final exams,” Diane Devanney, math specialist in the Math Resource Center said in an e-mail that was also signed by Dr. Lisa Ratmansky, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Jacquie Lavely, math tutor.

Students participating have mixed emotions about the homework lab. Some find it extremely helpful while others find it a waste of time. The lab is in a pilot stage so any problems that occur this fall the Math Resource Center will address before moving forward and opening the program to a larger number of students, however more than 40 students are being graded during this pilot course this semester.

“It is mandatory, which is the part that everyone is upset about. It is a third day of math in one week because we are there for another hour and 15 minutes and we do not get an extra credit like calculus does for having a three-day-a week class,” Jill Fries, sophomore communication major, said.

Some students are concerned that the current structure of the lab is not giving them the support they need and wonder why they were not given a choice of whether or not they wanted extra help, while their grade is on the line.

“Sometimes I think it’s good, other times I think it’s bad. I got a bad grade on my last test and I would have to say the math lab is partly to blame, because it obviously did not teach me everything,” Fries said.

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Mallory Terrence

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