DANBURY, CONN. — Celebrating the completion of two new student-centered facilities, Western Connecticut State University will hold dual ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Thursday, Oct. 31. At 11 a.m., there will be a ceremony at the Math Emporium in the Higgins Hall Annex on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. A second ceremony will be at 1 p.m. at the Learning Commons adjacent to the Young Library in the Westside Classroom Building on the university's Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Both ceremonies will be free and the public is invited.
The WCSU Math Emporium spans 3,500 square feet of classroom space renovated this summer to provide a state-of-the-art technological center for mathematics education adapted to the specific learning pace of each student and designed to combine software-based learning tools, traditional lecture instruction and one-on-one tutoring. Equipped with a total of 88 learning stations, the Math Emporium offers a flexible open-floor plan with 10 triangular pods, each equipped with computers and seating for four to six students, and a lecture space with computers and seating for 32 students that can be separated by retractable dividers from the rest of the center. The facility features diverse learning aids including SmartBoards, whiteboards and a screen with overhead projection, as well as an adjoining office for faculty and teaching assistants who will provide tutoring on site.
During the fall semester, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Senan Hayes, coordinator of the Math Emporium program, is teaching a pilot intermediate algebra course with an enrollment of 28 students introducing the new instructional approach for 100-level mathematics courses. All mathematics faculty members and teaching assistants involved in 100-level instruction currently are being trained in use of the Emporium's educational software and the complementary workbook written by Hayes specifically for introductory and intermediate algebra classes at Western. These introductory steps will pave the way for full rollout of the Math Emporium program in all 100-level mathematics courses during the spring semester starting in January.
Hayes estimated the Math Emporium will provide the opportunity for 900 to 1,000 students each semester to improve their mastery of fundamental mathematics by taking advantage of computer-based adaptive learning techniques that reinforce and build upon classroom instruction. All students in 100-level courses will be required to complete exercises using MyMathLab, a
Pearson Education software program, in tandem with the customized WCSU workbooks, enabling each student to make self-paced progress in mastery of lessons with immediate access to tutors to assist with special problems. "You become an active participant using the software and workbook, and this will make you better at the math you are trying to learn," Hayes said.
WCSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jane McBride Gates explained that the Math Emporium approach to instruction has a demonstrated track record at universities across the nation in improving course grades and enrollment retention rates among new students who enter college with inadequate foundations in mathematics. "Over the years, I have been very impressed with technologies for adaptive computer-based learning, and I am absolutely thrilled with the Math Emporium," Gates said. "Our students will have the best of both worlds: They will receive immediate feedback, corrections and guidance while they are doing math problems at the Emporium, and they will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member.
"Too often, students do not do well in math because they have been passive listeners in the classroom," Gates added. "The Emporium program will require students to do the math themselves — they will be learning by doing."
Western's Ancell School of Business (ASB) opened the Learning Commons after Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Management Information Systems Dr. Emilio Collar piloted for three years an intervention program called "Business-Focused, Strategy-Based Advising" for students on probation. This program dramatically improved GPAs, but highlighted the need to provide tutoring and other services as an adjunct to advising. That knowledge led WCSU to create the Learning Commons adjacent to the Robert Young Library to provide tutoring, advisement and other programs designed to enrich the academic experience for ASB students.
"The Learning Commons is committed to offering every Ancell student the tools needed for academic and career success," said Interim ASB Dean Dr. James Donegan. "We advise at-risk students, provide tutoring geared to all levels of competence, and offer a wide range of support services and enrichment events designed to help each student draw the greatest value from an Ancell education."
For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
PHOTO CAPTION: Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Senan Hayes (standing) instructs students in the Math Emporium.
PHOTO CREDIT: WCSU Photo/Peggy Stewart