Our View: Adding up for math classes

DKS Editors

Emulating a 13-year-old program at Virginia Tech, Kent State is planning to drastically change the way remedial math is taught. The system will transform students’ math learning experience by utilizing high-end technology and relying less on faculty.

The Math Emporium, the university’s new instructional model, will be hosted at a computer lab carrying software that creates individualized, self-paced math courses. The program is designed to limit repetition of topics a student already comprehends. An instructor will be assigned to monitor the lab and will be available to address students’ questions.

Kent State’s Emporium is expected to serve all students enrolled in remedial classes, which last semester was 2,700. However, the change in instructional models will result in a $1.2 million investment, which will be used to set up the 250-computer lab in the second floor of the University Library.

At Virginia Tech, the Emporium has improved math instruction by “taking advantage of the bottom-line orientation of many students: ‘What do I need to pass the test?,’” forcing students to actively participate in the learning process. It also provides immediate performance feedback, according to Educause, a nonprofit organization that analyzes how to better higher education by promoting the use of information technology.

For the past two years, the university has being exploring ways to improve the effectiveness of remedial classes. A recent change was to condense six remedial levels into four. If the results at Virginia Tech’s Emporium’s were to be the same at Kent State, administrators may have finally found a way to revamp these courses.

It is a given that the university’s main goal is the success of all students. However, at a time when administrators are signaling concerns and uncertainty about the university’s budget, we wonder if it is the right time to invest $1.2 million in a new instructional system that is basically designed to teach high-school level math.

Foreseeing a tuition increase, should all undergraduate students pay the cost of such a program? We believe not. In times like this, when students and administrators are piggy-banking every nickel and dime, we believe the cost should fall on the shoulders of those students who are in need of remedial math. Students who don’t need extra help should not be financially penalized for those who do.

We understand that $1.2 million is a relatively small amount in the overall university budget, but when students are cutting corners to save every penny, the university should make the same efforts. Every drop in the budget-savings bucket counts.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.