Monday, January 13, 2014

You can do it!

For many returning students, it takes a tremendous amount of courage to take the first steps to moving back into the academic classroom. Today, many mature students choose to take on this endeavor. While the thought of sitting in a classroom surrounded by much younger students can make mature students feel out of place, we find that life experience provides balance contributing positively to one's self efficacy. In this interview we hear this first hand and the message is clear.

Hang in can do it!

Entire Interview Audio (mp3)
Entire Interview Audio (wma)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Learning to Love Math

By Lisa Barker

Math is scary. It is the subject that students are most anxious about taking, and it is the one that they spend most time worrying about when they are studying it.

A lot of this worry comes from the bad experiences that many of us have had with math in the past, and from the false belief that math is a difficult subject that we are either naturally good at, or incapable of understanding. The Algebra2go website is full of resources and study tips that can help you through your math classes, but one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success in math is to approach the subject with the right attitude.
Math is not as difficult or as scary as we often believe, and although a natural interest in numbers can help us to enjoy math, it is not necessary to be born a math genius to succeed in this class. Success in math depends much more upon motivation than natural ability or intelligence. If you want to learn math, and you are motivated to do the work, then there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to pass your chosen classes. Many students who are returning to study following time in recovery programs in California or after other interruptions to their studies express particular concern about math, but there are plenty of additional support services in place to help. The lessons you have learned during recovery can also help you in class. Having a strong support network of teachers, tutors and fellow students will be important, as will the qualities of courage, confidence, perseverance and pride.


Fear and anxiety are the main barriers to success in math. If you have the courage to start overcoming these fears by enrolling in a new math class, then you have the courage you will need to succeed. Once you begin studying in a more supportive environment, you will probably find that math is much less scary than you thought it was. We weren't born fearing math, and in fact, many people who later come to fear it did not find it at all intimidating when they were first learning to count, or watching episodes of Sesame Street. Often, it was witnessing the anxiety of others, or having a bad experience in a class where the teacher did not have the time or inclination to help us to understand a particular technique we found difficult that first made us fear math. Recognizing that it was not the math itself that was the problem can help you to approach your new classes with curiosity and determination instead of fear.


The same bad experiences that make us afraid of math can also make it difficult to feel confidence in our own abilities. It is too easy to accept the commonly held belief that math is a uniquely challenging subject and to assume that because we have struggled with it in the past, we are simply not capable of understanding it. However, these sorts of problems are more often the result of a lack of confidence or of proper teaching support than a lack of ability or intelligence. Going back to the point at which you lost your way can help you to regain your confidence. If you start your classes at a level you feel comfortable with, and make use of all the teaching support that is available to you, the topics that you struggled with before can become clear. Many people struggle for years before their additional learning needs are recognized, and then find that special aids are available that can make learning much easier, while others just needed a different style of teaching to help them to understand math. Don't be afraid of your teachers or of the tutors who can offer extra support. They are there to help you and they would certainly not want you to feel intimidated about asking for help.


Practice makes perfect, in math as in any other skill. There is a reason why your teacher asks you to complete the same sort of exercise multiple times. Repeating a particular technique can help you to retain it in your memory, and practicing basic skills like multiplication can help simple calculations to stick in your mind, just as you can find yourself memorizing the words to a song you have heard many times. Soon the answers will just pop into your head, without having to think about it.


Having the courage to try learning math, allowing confidence in your own abilities to grow, and persevering at the work even when it is hard, will help you to succeed in math, but it will also prepare you for any challenges you may encounter in the future. The work you do now will not only prove useful in your future work and studies, but it is also a significant achievement in its own right. The reputation that math has as a frightening and difficult subject prevents many people from even trying to understand it, but you have chosen to take on this challenge and beaten your fear of math. You should be proud of yourself, and you should use this pride to help motivate you in your studies.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Worksheets with Embedded QR Codes

On occasion we as instructors create worksheets to give to our students so they can practice learning objectives we recently covered in our classrooms. In some cases as students’ progress through the problems, they get stuck at a particular step preventing them from reaching the solution. It is very likely that the particular skill that prevents them from moving forward was a skill covered in a previous lecture or from a prerequisite math course. Using QR Codes and leveraging existing smart phone technology, we can provide the student with immediate access to content directly related to the necessary skill. This somewhat emulates the learning environments we as teachers try to create in our traditional classroom lectures. In this KSBR radio show interview, we discuss the advantages of using QR codes in the education arena.

Sample Worksheets with Embedded QR Codes

Entire Interview Audio(wma)
Entire Interview Audio(mp3)

Monday, July 9, 2012

People and Technology Supporting Students

Quite often we hear about a new electronic device that's going to change the way teachers engage their students. But the question that always seems to arise is how to use this new technology effectively. Here at the community college we are confronted with a wide variety of learning styles and life experiences making it difficult for the institution to meet the needs of its students. One college approach is to offer free tutoring services through the LAP (Learning Assistance Program). The LAP will soon go through some changes to improve the way it functions to support our students. One new approach involves the use of a smartpen. In this interview we talk about how we are using this technology to create an immersive learning experience with pdf files. Because words alone cannot fully describe the experience, you can download one of the documents using the URL below and see for yourself. To view this document with its integrated smartpen technology, you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader 10.1 or above installed on your computer. Enjoy.

Sample Smartpen Livescribe Document

Sample Smartpen Livescribe Text

Entire Interview Audio(wma)
Entire Interview Audio(mp3)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When will I have to use Math in Real Life?

Many faculty have heard that question asked many times. In this interview we hear faculty, students, and a parent discuss the applications of mathematics. Although it is widely known that math is everywhere, the focused application of mathematics here centers around careers in the rapidly growing allied health field.

Entire Interview Audio(wma)
Entire Interview Audio(mp3)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Riding on Passion and Purpose

For some returning students, the emotional barriers to learning mathematics are sometimes related to past negative experiences with mathematics. In this interview we are taken well beyond those emotional barriers to an area math faculty may seldom choose to think about. The student courage demonstrated here is tremendous and details the struggles that some of our students are confronted with. Through our Human Services Department and CAADE do these students continue to move forward through obstacles that lie far beyond the affect.

Another important college wide effort in supporting student learning is our tutoring centers. Following the prior interview is one of the college's math tutors who gives her perspective of student learning from a tutor's viewpoint.

Entire Interview Audio(wma)
Entire Interview Audio(mp3)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Forgotten Dreams

As we get older, many of the dreams we had in our youth seem out of reach and so are forgotten. A college education can be the key to making those dreams real. But for many returning students, the thought of having to take math classes is more of a nightmare than a dream. In this interview, two returning students discuss how college resources provided the necessary emotional and academic support needed to pursue their forgotten dreams.

Entire Interview (YouTube Video IVCTV33)

Entire Interview Audio(wma)
Entire Interview Audio(mp3)