Enhanced college math study boosting student success

skinney@keynoter.comFebruary 19, 2014 

Florida Keys Community College math instructor Morgan Fry (left) helps student Julie Peterson work through math problems in the college's student success center. The developmental math class is part of the college's reinvented curriculum aimed at students who need to catch up before taking college-level math.

BY SEAN KINNEY

Florida Keys Community College student Julie Peterson sat in the Stock Island college's "student success center" poring over math problems with instructor Morgan Fry.

But this isn't your traditional talk-and-chalk lecture. Rather, it's the college's Island TIME (Transition Into Math Excellence) program, a relatively new self-paced, technology-assisted method of instruction that pass-rate figures show is helping students achieve their education goals.

Peterson, 20, is from Big Pine Key and wants to earn an associate's degree in marine environmental technology.

Before she can move on to intermediate and then college algebra for her intended degree track, she has to score a 70 percent or better in the first and second section of developmental math.

"I started a month ago and now I'm in Math 2," she said, adding that the My Math Lab software that drives Island TIME "is really easy to use."

If Peterson keeps up her pace, she'll finish well before the end of the spring semester "and maybe have a few weeks off" before starting her next math class in summer.

"We have such diversity" in the developmental math classes, Fry said, which includes full-time students and those who already have a career but are going back to college.

Two rows up and three seats down from Peterson, Leslie Allen carefully checked her handwritten work manipulating fractions before entering her answers into the computer.

She works in sales for Historic Tours of America in Key West and formerly drove one of the company's Old Town Trolley vehicles.

"At 49, I decided I wanted to start pursuing a degree," she said. "I figure starting before I'm 50 is a good idea."

Allen is considering an associate's in history although "the math has intrigued me."

"Math has always been a big problem for me," she continued, "and it kept me from doing a lot of things. I had to start from the beginning. This program is so user-friendly. For people like me that are hands-on learners, it's just incredible."

Fry and instructor Marjorie Rodriguez said self-motivation dictates a student's success or failure in developmental math.

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