Pirate C.A.V.E. enhances learning for ECU algebra students

East Carolina University students taking college algebra this fall will encounter a redesigned Math 1065 course that will send them underground for additional instruction.

Math 1065 students will attend one weekly 50-minute class sesson in a new learning lab called the Pirate C.A.V.E. (College Algebra Virtual Environment), located in the basement of Joyner Library. An additional three hours minimum in lab time will be required for the entire semester.

The curriculum change is modeled after a Louisiana State University program that has proven successful in decreating D and F grades, while increasing passing rates and retention, said Cathy Wilkerson, ECU mathematics instructor and lab director.

“I am very excited to be a part of our redesign of Math 1065. We have a great team of college algebra instructors, and we have been planning for its implementation for over a year,” Wilkerson said. “We are hopeful that we can achieve the same success that other universities have experienced with their redesigns.”

Students will use the MyMathLab software program in the lab to complete homework assignments and take all quizzes and exams. Supplemental videos provided by LSU are available, and additional videos are under production by faculty in the ECU mathematics department.

ECU faculty members and student tutors will provide assistance in the C.A.V.E. For each section of Math 1065, professors are required to spend two hours in the lab. Twenty student tutors have been hired, following rigorous training and a required 100 percent score on a Math 1065 exercise.

Dr. Johan Hattingh

Dr. Johan Hattingh, chair of the Department of Mathematics, said the primary goal of the redesign of Math 1065 is to shift students from a passive, note-taking role to an active orientation that will enhance learning.

“In essence, students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math,” Hattingh said. “I am very excited about the redesign’s promise of improved grades and fewer withdrawals, as has been the case at several universities that have redesigned their college algebra course.”

“We have lost several fixed-term instructors due to the economic crisis, and the new lab will help the department continue to meet its huge foundational teaching commitments,” Hattingh said.

A ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 15 will celebrate the lab’s grand opening. Beginning Aug. 21, the C.A.V.E. will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

For additional information about the Pirate C.A.V.E., contact Wilkerson at 252-328-1892 or email wilkersonc@ecu.edu.

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