Math department focused on student success efforts

At the November Board of Education Meeting, Math Chair Drake Wallick and Math Lab Instructor Dwight Lockett presented an overview of some of the efforts TVCC is making to help students improve math skills at the College.

TVCC’s Math Jam program is a key part of those efforts. Math Jam is a three-day math boot camp that allows student to, upon completing the training, retake the initial math placement test in order to accelerate their academic pathway through TVCC’s developmental math sequence.

It’s a supportive no-cost class designed to help students build skills, knowledge and confidence to persist in math classes. And, if students complete the intensive tutoring program they have the opportunity to re-take the placement exam for an opportunity to test into a higher level of math class, and expedite the completion of their math requirements.

Funded by the Title III federal grant TVCC received, Math Jam has been offered since fall 2017. While the results are limited with just one year of comparative data, so far 10 students have tested into a higher math class after completing the Math Jam. Of those 10 students, nine have successfully completed the higher level class. This fall 25 students enrolled in Math Jam and the College will track their success over the next year.

Lockett also shared information about the math lab tutoring class which helps math tutors learn skills to provide assistance to students who may be struggling.

“It’s more than just math though,” Lockett said about the class tutors take in order to be able to serve in the math lab. “We talk about leadership, how to diffuse difficult situations and what to do when a student seems especially stressed.”

Lockett also demonstrated a tensegrity project that he has students construct in the class.
Tensegrity structures are combinations of compression elements (in this case, sticks) and tension elements (in this case, ropes) which hold themselves stably in well-defined three-dimensional structures, just by the balance of forces.

Lockett reported that this type of structure was pioneered by Kenneth Snelson, and since his discovery, a lot of information has collected out there about them. Lockett gave the board members their own tensegrity kit said the project makes a perfect team-building and math skills event.