KSU Math Emporium Is About More Than Just Numbers
The emporium is on the second floor of the university library
Kent State University is making a big investment in student success, as well as increasing freshman retention rates, by completely revamping the way basic math courses are taught.
The second floor of the university library is in the midst of a $1 million renovation project that is turning former storage space into a 250-computer, state-of-the-art learning center dubbed the Math Emporium.
Andrew Tonge, chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Kent State, said students whose individual assessments show a need for basic math instruction will be introduced this fall to ALEKS – an artificially intelligent computer learning system.
Tonge said the adaptive program allows students to choose their own pathways through various math topics at their own pace while constantly assessing their progress.
“Our students have not been succeeding as well as we’d like in elementary math courses,” he said. “(With ALEKS), students will be learning all the materials they need to learn – not what the instructors think they need to learn.”
The ALEKS software was chosen over other models, Tonge said, because it has proven to be the most effective mathematics software on the market that adapts to individual student needs.
“Evidence from other universities shows that when teaching in this type of format, students do much better … You get at least 25 percent more students moving forward rather than getting stuck in elementary (math) courses, then dropping out, which is what we don’t want them to do,” he explained.
The 11,000-square-foot math emporium will be the new campus “classroom” for students whose placement assessments show a need for Basic Algebra I-IV courses, formerly called core math.
“These are the courses that students should have learned sufficiently in high school to succeed in college courses,” Tonge said. “We need to get them up to speed. There’s a strong correlation between success in first math courses and retention at Kent State.”
Instead of reporting to the math building for classes this fall, students enrolled in any of the four basic algebra courses will attend “class” in the Math Emporium, which will be staffed at all times with teaching faculty, graduate students and peer coaches.
Tonge said instructors will be able to continually monitor student progress through the ALEKS software, as it provides statistics on everything from what a student is currently working on to how much time they’ve devoted to various topics. Faculty will be proactive in providing individualized help to those who need it.
Students in the basic algebra classes benefit from interacting with both the software and the instructional team in the Math Emporium. “They’re classes that provide one-on-one interaction,” he said.
The emporium will be staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Tonge said another advantage of Kent State using the ALEKS model is that the software is Web-based. “Students will be able to actually do work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, wherever they are,” he said.
The Math Emporium renovation project should be finished by Aug. 15, then computers and furniture will be moved in and set up for the start of classes Aug. 29. A dedication event is planned for 4 p.m. Sept. 13.