Developmental Mathematics

Springfield Technical Community College has a population of students from widely varied backgrounds. To better serve the needs of these students, it was necessary to develop a mathematics program capable of working with students at various levels of mathematical competency and provide them with a course of study which could give them the proficiency needed in high technology areas. The course ALGB-099 is designed to fill this need. It offers 9 credits of mathematics at the pre-college level. These 9 credits carry college credit, but not graduation credit. It is these 9 credits, which include Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra I and Elementary Algebra II, that constitute our developmental program in mathematics.

Each student planning to attend STCC must take the mathematics placement test. The results indicate the level at which the student is best able to begin math. The students, in conjunction with their advisors, are then able to choose the type of instruction best suited to their individual needs. Some students are placed directly into college-level courses; the rest are placed in one of the three developmental level courses to earn pre-requisite credits for required college-level courses.

Developmental level credits may be earned by enrolling in ALGB-099, Elements of Math, or traditional lecture courses. ALGB-099 credits and equivalent lecture courses on the developmental level both use the same textbook, the same test bank of questions for quizzes and modular exams and the Testing Center. This parallel structure allows students to drop back from lecture to ALGB-099 anytime during the semester should problems arise. The student retains any passing grades earned while he/she was enrolled in the lecture option. The difference between these two options is: the lecture students earn one three-credit grade while ALGB-099 students are issued a grade for each single credit earned.

The hallmarks of ALGB-099 are: students set their own pace for learning; the setting is self-learning by students aided by well-written texts, and an in-class faculty member; the testing center which is open many hours per week for all students on a walk-in basis; a dedicated staff and student tutors; a non-punitive grading system and test scoring immediately upon completion of an exam.

ARTH-078, Pre-Algebra; ALGB-087, Elementary Algebra I; and ALGB-097, Elementary Algebra II are 3 credit courses with a traditional lecture format. The material covered and textbooks used are the same as the equivalent credits in the ALGB-099 math sequence. Tests can be given in the classroom or in the Testing Center depending on the instructor's preference. Students have the option of switching to ALGB-099 any time during the semester if the lecture pace becomes to fast or too slow for them. A student transferring to self-paced will receive credit for any exams passed while in the lecture course.

The Test Center

The Testing Center is room 417. There is always a proctor on duty when the test center is open. Beginning with Spring Semester 1986, a new system of testing, CAT (Computer Assisted Testing), was introduced. There is a complete test bank containing questions for all credits of math. Test questions are drawn at random by objective for each quiz and the modular exam. In CAT, the student types their student ID number into the computer and then presses the return/enter key. The student's file is accessed and the screen asks what test the student wishes to take and offers appropriate options. The student then types the appropriate 3-digit code into the computer and presses the return key. A hard copy of the test is generated from the printer.

Students enrolled in ALGB-099 Elements of Math, take all their tests in the Test Center. Developmental lecture instructors use of the Test Center varies from all quizzes and exams to just retakes and/or make-up exams to testing in the Test Center.

The student takes an answer key and work paper from the proctor's desk. Students are encouraged to use work paper since instructors can give credit for problems worked out correctly. After finishing the test, the student returns to the proctor before leaving the test center. The proctor then staples the work paper to the test (all other work paper must be discarded before leaving the Test Center) and stamps the answer key with the date. The proctor may ask a student to show a picture ID at any time. Strict testing policies are enforced with no talking and no extraneous materials allowed.

The Correction Center

After the proctor staples the work paper to the test and stamps the answer key with the date, the student goes to the adjacent room where a staff member scores the test. The student is given a copy of the test results which contains the student's answers, the correct answers and the score stapled to the hard copy of the exam questions. The work sheet (if any) is stapled to the faculty copy of the results and is forwarded to the instructor.

The Tutor Center (Room 421)

Students who have completed the ALGB-099 math program or some traditional math course at a higher level and display the attributes of a good teacher are recruited as tutors by the math faculty. Each prospective tutor is given a 10 question quiz to validate his/her math ability. Tutors are paid through the Tutorial Assistance Program (TAP) or through state funds for disadvantaged students.

Every tutor is given material and a general orientation with the classified staff member who has the responsibility of keeping records of tutors' hours and answering any routine questions. Technical questions and any grade changes are handled by faculty only.

The Tutor Center has bookcases stocked with mathematics books sent to the department by publishers for review. After the books have been reviewed, they are placed here so that tutors can use them as personal reference or for use with students needing tutorial assistance. Students and tutors are encouraged to keep any books for their personal use which they find helpful. All publisher's representatives have been enthusiastic about this use of review copies.