Doing the math

By Alice Mannette

The new Math Modules at a Kansas college help students save time and money.

Butler Community College is revolutionizing math in Kansas. In order to help students be more successful and complete college algebra, Butler will introduce math in a modular format.  The new approach to teaching and learning math will launch this fall. This curriculum is designed to remove math as a barrier to completing a degree.

These modular courses include pre-algebra, fundamentals of algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra. Each of the 16-week math courses will be divided into three five-week modules. Once a student completes all three modules of intermediate or college algebra, he/she receives what is considered the equivalent of three hours credit for the course. If a student is unable to successfully complete a module, he/she may begin again during the next five-week period rather than having to wait until the next semester, which has been the case. If a student tests out of one of the modules, that student will only have to take and pay for the modules needed. This will save the student both time and money.

“It’s a phenomenal approach that will help students who struggle with math,” said Lori Winningham, vice president of academics. “This approach helps to eliminate fear and promote success.”

Winningham, a former math professor and dean, challenged her math faculty to devise a teaching modality that would help spawn student success. Their response was to break the classes up into modules. By breaking classes up into smaller components, students are less intimidated and able to build a solid math foundation and succeed.

National data show that almost 60 percent of students entering a community college must take a fundamental class. Often that class is a math class.

“Historical data shows us that too few students who start in developmental math courses will persist to college algebra,” math professor Bethany Chandler said. “National studies show the majority of students who disappear from the sequence are dropping out without completing the course.”

This new format is the first in the region. Along with the additional face-to-face courses, Butler is adding a math lab. When students do math at Butler, they earn credit for what they know and focus on what they don’t.


Alice Mannette

Alice Mannette is a communications specialist at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.

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