Receiving a LIFT in Math

Advisors at GateWay Community College oftentimes see students graduating from high school who want to pursue a post-secondary degree and find the math instruction they received at the high school level left them unprepared for college.

When pursuing a higher education, these students land in remedial classes to relearn concepts that were missed. Unfortunately, it’s at this point that some students decide to end their educational pursuit, based on concerns that they will never be able to attain a degree.

Power Math Camp was developed at GateWay in 2010 as a way of rapidly strengthening math skills, as well as reminding students of content they have already covered but may have forgotten.

Over the summer, the camp was recently put to the test with a group of at-risk students in LIFT, a summer bridge program.

“This year’s LIFT Math Camp produced solid results,” said Shannon Ruth, mathematics faculty.  “It involved working with 40 LIFT students for 12 days over a three-week period.  The goal was to help these students refresh on basic math knowledge so that they could place into a higher level math course for the fall semester.”

After a considerably short, yet intensive period, 77.5% of students placed into a higher-level math course. The results even surprised some of the participants. 

“The Power Math Camp was three weeks long so I basically skipped a semester for every week that I was there,” said Angel Salinas, a justice studies student.

Lilly Lough, a student services specialist, agrees that the results are impressive and wishes the program would be expanded to the full student population.

“It helps students save time and money as well as to refresh what they know,” says Lough. “With the math camp they get to know the instructors and they get to know the tutors so they are exposed to two key components of their success before they event start their college classes.” 

The topics covered ranged from basic arithmetic through intermediate algebra.  In addition to refreshing math knowledge, the camp provided students an excellent opportunity to build a sense of community, connectedness, and belonging on campus.

“I don’t think we can over-emphasize the importance of these factors,” says Ruth. “We helped students stay engaged by incorporating Canvas and various technology tools.  One day we even brought in the iPad cart and students worked in pairs to create video tutorials of key math concepts for one another – they came up with some very creative work!”

Plans are to continue offering both the Power Math Camp and the LIFT Math Camp. Alternatives are currently being considered to offer these camps free to all students.

The Power Math Camp will continue to be offered the week before each semester begins (January, May, August), and the LIFT Camp will continue to be offered during the summer.

For more information regarding this program, please contact Shannon Ruth.

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