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Math Challenged? Math Emporium May Provide the Answer

Jessie Bajwa working in the Math Emporium at Western Connecticut State University.
Jessie Bajwa working in the Math Emporium at Western Connecticut State University.
Western Connecticut State University revealed its Math Emporium Thursday, and students using it say it might turn English majors into Math wonks.

The room itself has 90 computer work stations, and room enough for a class at one end and students working independently at the other.

"If we could change the attitude to math is doable, we'd have more people interested in math courses," said Professor Senan Hayes, who encouraged the WCSU administration to consider the emporium model created at Virginia Tech University. The Math Emporium at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has over 500 computer work stations offering help at all math levels.

The Emporium at WCSU is located in the Higgins Hall Annex, and tutors and math teachers are available Monday to Thursdays. Students start with remedial math classes, if necessary, and they can complete their math requirement for graduation in one semester, rather than a year, if they want.

"I was always a good science student, but not a math student," said Jessie Bajwa, 19, a freshman, who is using the Emporium this fall. He said most of his classmates will finish Math 100 in December. He expects to finish in November. "I'm thinking about a biology major. I'd like to see where biology leads."

WCSU Provost Jane McBride Gates said the Math Emporium is successful for a number of reasons. She said students learn math by doing it with the help of the computers, tutors and instructors. They learn collaboration. They attend, and it has been shown to take remedial students and raise them up to college level. She said it also seems to help with keeping students at the university, because Math isn't a roadblock anymore.

"The Math Emporium is a great example of the kind of investment we should make," Gates said.

Professor Hayes is hoping to expand the Emporium's course offerings from remedial and beginning college math up to Calculus courses in the future.

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