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August 31, 2007

Mathematics Resource Center gives students best possible one-on-one tutoring

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 or 342-1852.

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