Wayne State math dept. helps prepare Warrior 360 students
Mathematics can be a challenging and intimidating subject for many students. It can also be rewarding, beautiful and applicable too. To help prepare students for their first math class, Associate Professor of Teaching, Richard Pineau, worked with students as part of the Warrior 360 Summer Program. The program brought together 25 students who will be freshmen this fall and in addition to enrichment and team-building exercises, students also learned valuable skills to help them in their courses, math included.
Latonia Garrett, Director of Student Success Initiatives for Wayne State, recruited Professor Pineau to run a "Math Boot Camp" for their students. His official title was student success fellow. In total, he spent seven hours over three days in mid-August. "I was asked to present several topics for the students. I spoke about academic integrity, facilitated a student panel, gave them some suggestions on how to survive a math class, and we did a mock lesson", Pineau said. The academic integrity lesson, while more global in nature, is part of a larger project that Professor Pineau was working on with colleagues from the Academic Senate. "We wanted to try this out and the students offered some really nice feedback to improve the lesson", he said.
The student panel brought together a few students who shared their experiences with mathematics, including their anxieties with it, and how they worked to overcome them. Two of the panelists, both juniors, included Elementary Education major Molly Schelosky and Public Health major Latefah Musaid, both former students of Pineau's. The third panelist was Emerging Scholars Program Academic Advisor Marisa Henderson, a WSU alumna herself and current Ph.D. student at WSU. Molly's desire to be a panelist was grounded in looking to put students at ease. "I wanted to help pass on some important advice to students, like making sure they reach out to their instructors if they are having issues", she said. Latefah also echoed these sentiments and added, "Knowing how to take advantage of the resources available at WSU is very important." Henderson shared her insights as a support coordinator, telling students that they need to have the courage to ask questions if they don't understand something. "I wanted them to know that they have to be in control of their learning and have the courage to approach their teachers if they don't understand something." Overall, students enjoyed the panel and the advice that was shared.
Professor Pineau had some creative activities for the students to explore the skills needed in order to succeed in a math class. He said, "I could have given them a 30-minute presentation and listed everything I thought they needed but instead, I wanted them to generate the list themselves. And they did! I even heard laughter several times during the activities. So, I hope they understand that learning in general, learning math, collaborating, all that stuff, can be fun."
For the mock lesson, Professor Pineau had a sampling of topics from algebra, statistics and some applications to everyday life, like understanding unit prices, weighted averages, and more. He also made sure to vary his presentation methods to include the usual chalkboard lecture, some PowerPoint, and the use of handouts, all of which students could see while taking their classes.
Professor Pineau added, "I really enjoyed my time with the students and I think they are ready to take on their first year at Wayne State. I wish such a program existed when I was a freshman here. I am happy to pass on my wisdom and to support our students."