Math is about developing skills, not just acquiring knowledge. It’s a skill like any other - we need to practice, get feedback and work together to solve problems. “Math is like learning a new language, you need to speak it with other people who are proficient in the language. It’s not always a natural thing for people but it’s something you can learn.” Padi Fuster, mathematics graduate student, explains. This can be a challenge to achieve in the classroom setting alone.
All Newcomb-Tulane College students are required to take a formal reasoning course, frequently math, to fulfill the core requirements of their degree. Students pursuing a B.S. or degree in Business have even more requirements. Since math requires many students to build these new skills, there is a high demand for tutoring, TA office hours and some students even turn to private tutoring. Often students can’t afford the extra cost or have busy schedules and can’t find an appointment time that works. Removing these barriers is something Padi has been trying to solve for years. She discussed the issue several times with Paula Booke, the Associate Director of the NTC Center for Academic Equity. Paula connected the department with her colleague, Christie Kahil at the NTC Academic, Learning and Tutoring Center. After some creative brainstorming, the Math Center was created through Padi’s energy and vision and this partnership between the Math department, with their deep subject knowledge, and the ALTC, bringing program management expertise.
The Math Center is, simply, a place to do math. It’s open to all students taking core courses in calculus and statistics and is completely free! Housed inside the ALTC, it will be open for 20 hours a week Sunday through Thursday. Students can come do their homework, organize small group study sessions and tap into the insights of a TA. All the course TAs will work in the Center– extending the hours they can be open and creating a collaborative space. Centralizing resources gives students the opportunity to find a TA that helps them connect to the material best, even if it’s not the TA for their course. The Center will still work in cooperation with tutoring and Supplemental Instruction so that students can choose the pathway that works best for their learning style.
The Math Center is a manifestation of the focus on student success and collaborative spirit of all involved and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of all students.
“Our partnership with the ALTC is vital to meeting the needs of our students. These types of partnerships help us to provide resources to help students connect with math better.” Dr. Michael Joyce, Professor of Practice in the Department of Mathematics.
“When everyone, including faculty, staff and students are engaging in a collective effort to emphasize academic engagement and high achievement, it gives it an energy and momentum that individuals and single departments cannot achieve on their own.” Christie Kahil, Director of the Academic Learning and Tutoring Center.