FREE MATH, SCIENCE TUTORING
GIVES STUDENTS BOOST AT USAO
By GRANT ARNDT
Your excuses for low math scores won't work at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, say faculty members.
Students from all majors who need a boost in math or science can take advantage of the MAST (Math and Science Tutors) program, open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Austin Hall 213. Best of all, it's free.
Dr. Nancy Warden gets excited talking about student success in a subject area where nearly a third of all students in Oklahoma colleges need some extra help.
"I knew a woman who had to take all three levels of the remedial math, as required, several years ago," Warden says. "I think her degree was in business. She used the Math Lab a lot because she really needed the help. But I watched her succeed and make 'A's' in those math classes, and it proved to me that somebody who wants to succeed, and takes advantage of the resource we provide, really can succeed."
Now in its 16th year, MAST is staffed with proficient math and science majors, Warden says, who are willing and ready to help students who need more than a prayer and students who just want to learn and practice math. Eight or nine students are employed there each semester through the College Work Study or other programs.
"I think spending one hour in the Math Lab with a tutor is worth at least two hours of trying to do that work alone at home, on your own," Warden said. "In order to learn math you have to do it, and this lab gives students the opportunity to work together at it."
Students themselves are part of the success story at MAST. "Two of our math majors who are now going to school or working in other jobs have come back to teach our remedial classes," Warden said. "They've proven to be great assistance to us because they understand the struggling math student's perspective."
Janice Preuninger of Anadarko, who plans to be a math teacher, enjoys helping students. "I helped this guy who had been in Math in the Modern World for 3 semesters and with the MAST tutoring program, we worked through the problems and he understood it. It is really good to see students get better at math."
Warden is proud of the lab's progress. "When it started about 15 years ago, it was just volunteer tutoring service," she explained. "We eventually added some Work Study Program assistance. Later we added other funds. Finally we started using a fee attached to the remedial classes to help fund it. And now it is successful. We rarely see fewer than 10 students a week. And sometimes, just before test week, we'll see 40 or more."
Some students find it easier to get help from their peers, says Kathryn Ralph of McLoud a senior in deaf education.
"From my experience, working in the math and science lab I have had the opportunity to assist many of my classmates in learning math in a comfortable environment."
Nathan Foster of Norman, a sophomore biology major, has gained vital help, he said. "MAST has helped my science grades. Chemistry is rather difficult for me, but I have always been able to get help there."
With help from other faculty, Warden founded the lab to provide math and science tutoring in a supportive, accessible setting. It's comfortable, she says, and outfitted like a lounge with couches, chairs, tables, computers and a big TV.
Its professional appearance is due to the work of Dr. Darryel Reigh, professor of chemistry, Warden says. "Dr. Reigh is the single person most responsible for making our lab look as professional as it does. He took the leadership to get our facility looking like a professional facility."
Warden joined the USAO faculty in 1980. More than a math educator, she is more of a "math advocate." Warden is a key player in preparing classroom teachers for public schools in Oklahoma. And her favorite outfit is embroidered with the words, "Math Lady."
For students struggling in any subject, Warden also endorses the Academic Resource Center.
"The Academic Resource Center has a lot of computer software to aid in math learning, as well as many other subjects," Warden says. "I've had students who used it and said it was wonderful, and that it really helped them brushing up in college algebra. I can think of one student I know who used the center 4-5 times during the trimester, a student who expected he would do poorly in college algebra. He made a 'B.' Of course he also used the Math Lab for support."