Math proficiency has long been a concern of UNM academic leadership. Approximately 2,300 students per year attempt intermediate algebra (Math 120) with a pass rate of less than 50 percent. Since Math 120 is one of the gateway courses for UNM students, addressing the low pass rates is crucial for student success.
Mark Peceny, dean, College of Arts & Sciences, and faculty in the Department of Mathematics, began researching and planning a pilot project over the last academic year to redesign content delivery that replaces lectures with time in a learning lab where students use self-paced, computer-based resources to learn and be assessed. The project is an experiment that will attempt to improve the low pass rates for Math 120.
“The University of New Mexico and the College of Arts and Sciences is committed to helping the Department of Mathematics and Statistics deliver a quality mathematics curriculum to all undergraduate students at UNM,” said Phillip Ganderton, associate dean, College of Arts and Sciences. “MaLL is a significant step in achieving the goal of providing a flagship university education to the emerging American majority.”
This method is in place at many institutions across the U.S. and is proving to be successful in improving student learning and pass rates for intermediate algebra, as well as a number of other courses. The Math Learning Lab (MaLL) will be staffed with teachers, graduate students and select undergraduates who will assist students individually as they move through the material. The pilot project for the MaLL begins this fall, and involves a relatively small number of students utilizing an existing computer classroom.
“Dean Peceny is convinced that starting with this pilot project, the College can quickly develop this initiative into an innovative model for improving student success and graduation,” Ganderton said.
To achieve the goal of having all Math 120 students use this new course delivery model commencing in the spring 2013 semester, the math department, Arts and Sciences, University Libraries, campus planning and Information Technologies conducted an extensive evaluation of campus space and determined that the learning lab will be located on the southeast side of the main level of the Centennial Science and Engineering Library (CSEL). It will be equipped with 125 computers for instructional purposes and a testing lab with 15 additional computers. When the MaLL computers are not in use by math students, they will be available for general CSEL usage.