UNM redesigns math class for struggling students

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The University of New Mexico is taking a new approach to help struggling math students as the school strives to reach higher pass and retention rates.

A new math lab provides a setting for a redesigned remedial course, with students using computers to learn at their own pace instead of attending traditional lectures. Teachers and tutors are on hand in the lab to assist.

The course is divided into three sections, and students have to master each section before they move on to the next. Students can stretch the course work beyond a semester if they need more time to finish, the university said.

UNM President Bob Frank said the goal "is to have our students succeed, and we know that this a stumbling block for many students because they're not well-prepared in math," the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/RVI0VB ) reported.

A celebration for the new lab's opening is scheduled Jan. 25.

The university conducted a pilot program for the redesigned course, Math 120, last fall, and now more than 1,000 students are enrolled.

Math lecturer Jenny Ross, who helps run the new program, said many students in last semester's pilot program said they failed Math 120 multiple times, including some who were taking the course for the fifth and sixth times.

Ross said it's too early to show how students in the pilot program performed compared to their peers who took the traditional lecture course last semester.

However, one challenge that's evident so far has been to keep students engaged and completing their coursework.

Because the program is self-paced and without deadlines, keeping students on track has been "a little hard," Ross said.

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