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Math Emporium offers new style of learning

January 18, 2012 : By Bethany Pico/Liberty University News Service

Math instructor Estela Altamirano helps freshman Jordan Williamson in the new Math Emporium in Green Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Liberty University is using an innovative learning environment to help students in mathematics. The Math Emporium recently opened in Green Hall, allowing students in lower-level math courses to take computer-guided lessons while teachers and tutors are just steps away, ready to help.

“Traditionally math is one of the subjects least loved by students, so we wanted to focus on improving the math experience for them,” said Brian Yates, Dean of Liberty’s Center for Academic Support and Advising Services (CASAS).

Students are required to attend a weekly class at a separate location to help guide them in their coursework, with a minimum of three hours per week at the Math Emporium. The emporium is open 80 hours a week.

Ashley Jones has been teaching math at Liberty University for five years and said the emporium is a change from the “traditional lecture” classroom environment, allowing students to see immediate results and feedback.

“It is the reverse from what we have done in the past,” she said. “The students are here with us in the emporium as they do their homework so they can ask us questions.”

Class assignments are delivered on one of the emporium’s 252 computers through “MyMathLab” software. Lessons include a short video, a concept quiz, homework exercises and tests.

Candace Beckner, a nursing student, said she has enjoyed the flexibility and ability to work at her own pace in the course.

“The coolest thing is you can move fast so you can actually finish your class early,” she said. “Once you finish the class and you get your final grade, you don’t have to come back to the Math Emporium even if the semester isn’t officially over.”

Yates said Liberty modeled the emporium after other universities that are using this new learning style and is hopeful for the success rate.

“We are really excited and we think this will really enhance the instruction of students,” he said. “We hope it will instill a love of math amongst students. We are thankful for the vision of the Chancellor and the Provost.”