JBU Math Students Receive Share Of $449,000 NSF Grant

Siloam Springs, Ark (February 5, 2001) — John Brown University has been notified that its Mathematics Department will be receiving 12 new computers for its participation in an Interactive Modular Mathematics Education Project funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education of the National Science Foundation. The $449,000 project is managed by Dr. William Feldman, Professor of Mathematics, and Wayne Mackey, director of the Mathematics Resource and Tutoring Center, both at the U of A. A consortium of six colleges and universities in three states will share the grant: University of Arkansas, Westark Community College, Northeastern Oklahoma State University, Northwest Arkansas Community College and Southwest Missouri State University

The UA Department of Mathematics in the Fulbright College developed this interactive computer-assisted math program to help students succeed in lower-level math courses. Funding from the National Science Foundation will purchase computers and provide training to nearly 3,000 students in the first year alone.

According to Dr. William Feldman, chair of the UA’s Math Department, "This project is unique in addressing critical problems encountered in traditionally taught courses. Only after successfully answering computer questions on concepts in the textbook can students begin solving problems. Then, if the student fails to solve a problem, a computer tutorial explains the solution and asks the student to solve a similar but different problem. Instead of frustration, the student experiences success. Already the format has significantly improved the performance of students in algebra classes at the U of A," said Feldman.

Dr. Calvin Piston, Professor of Mathematics at JBU, will manage the project on the Siloam Springs campus. "We participated in the pilot program last fall and met with good success," Dr. Piston says. "We’re pleased to be included in the roll-out and anticipate helping more students who have trouble with their math courses. Our share of the grant will provide a dozen new computers and fund staff to implement the program."

Courses taught in this new manner are self-paced but with deadlines. "More time is spent in the classroom on tutoring and less on formal lecturing. Students clearly prefer this method," Feldman says.

"It is not uncommon for as many as 50% of students in any math class to fail," says Piston. "We have better results than that at JBU because we’re able to screen students and direct them into the right classes. Larger schools don’t have that luxury. Still, this program can be extremely helpful to students who struggle with mathematics."

The new computers will be up and operating at JBU in fall 2001. As part of the program, personnel will provide research statistics and data to Feldman and Mackey, co-principal investigators for the NSF grant.

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of more than 1,500 students from 46 states and 30 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.