The Math Learning Center at Boise State was founded in 2002 to provide a focus for improving student success along with the ability to build mathematical reasoning and problem solving skills to increase the student’s ability to understand analytical experiences in future classes and in the world around them. The change to the curriculum and to the approach has allowed Boise State University to improve its math course outcomes and provide one of the most successful programs in the country.
In examining and refocusing the pedagogy of the courses, we have created a student centered approach which allows us to better prepare students for their future academic coursework and the skills needed for employment in today’s world. Three major focal changes to our pedagogy are:
- Analytic reasoning and modeling: Each week students complete group work designed to challenge them to improve their analytical reasoning skills, develop mathematics as a tool to model events and to make decisions from data.
- Independent lifelong learning: One of the biggest cultural changes from high school to college is the student’s need to quickly become independent. Our structure is designed to assist in making the transition and creating greater success in our courses and in all future courses.
If you are a parent, relative or a friend and you are aware of a student struggling, please encourage the student to become independent and self-advocate by seeking our assistance.
- Self-Efficacy (the belief that you can be successful): Our society has created a mystique about mathematics being very difficult to learn and that very few are good at mathematics; however, the work accomplished at Boise State indicates that the vast majority of people have the aptitude to be a math major.
In order to build a belief that we can be successful in mathematics, we must first understand the expectations of the subject. When doing practice problems, the mathematicians expects that we will be correct about 50% of the time. As soon as we become successful on a problem, we move on to the next type and begin again. The mystique of math says one needs to be successful 90% of the time to be successful and only the naturally gifted can accomplish this. People who figure out that everyone, including math majors, are only correct on practice problems 50% of the time can begin to reach their potential.
Within this framework, students can develop important skills of attempting difficult tasks and gracefully picking themselves up when they fall down. Also, everyone benefits from developing a means to determine when to stubbornly work on a problem and when it is best to ask for help, both from learning and a time management perspective.
With these changes in focus of student expectations, we can deliver the mathematics and the life skills necessary to be successful in future courses and in the workforce.
At the start of this letter we boasted about having one of the best mathematics programs in the country. We recognize that this is subjective and if you believe there are other good programs that may eclipse ours, we would love to hear who they are. We are always looking for new ideas to improve our program and provide Boise State students with the very best education possible.
If you have a question which needs an immediate answer, please feel free to contact me directly!
Director, Math Learning Center
Mail Stop 1556
1910 University Dr
Boise State University
Boise, ID 83725-1556
Other inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org