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Local

Waubonsee recognizes mathematics department as featured faculty and program

Waubonsee Community College's mathematics department and faculty – (from left) professor William Trunkhill, assistant professor Christopher Cunningham, associate professor Mark Crawford and associate professor Amy Frankel – were recognized as November's Student Success: Featured Faculty and Program.
Waubonsee Community College's mathematics department and faculty – (from left) professor William Trunkhill, assistant professor Christopher Cunningham, associate professor Mark Crawford and associate professor Amy Frankel – were recognized as November's Student Success: Featured Faculty and Program.

SUGAR GROVE – Mathematics is a requirement for most college majors. The faculty of the mathematics department at Waubonsee Community College is making great strides in enhancing the student experience in these important core classes. For these efforts, the department is being recognized as Waubonsee's November Student Success: Featured Faculty and Program, a news release stated.

Part of the mission of the mathematics department is to identify the needs of students and find creative ways to meet those needs. The department has done this in a variety of ways, according to the release.

One way is the redesign of the three courses in the algebra sequence to make two math pathways that allow students to take courses that best match their educational goals, the release stated. One of the pathways consists of two courses designed to help students succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs. Precalculus I focuses on basic algebraic concepts while Precalculus II concentrates on trigonometric, exponential and logarithmic functions.

The second pathway was designed for students in non-STEM programs. The entry course, Algebra for Business and Social Science, equips students with basic algebraic concepts necessary for a variety of academic programs, the release stated.

The mathematics department is also helping students succeed through cost savings. The department has begun to use free, open-source textbooks for four courses: Basic Statistics and all three courses in the calculus sequence. This is a significant savings and increase in value for Waubonsee students, according to the release.

As another example of helping students succeed, the faculty of the mathematics department worked with the faculty of the developmental education department to implement a co-requisite model for Basic Statistics. This allows students to develop the skills necessary for statistics without the requirement of an additional semester of coursework, , the release stated. This is done by taking the co-requisite math course at the same time as Basic Statistics.

“The co-requisite course is intended to help fill in the gaps in their knowledge on a just-in-time basis,” Amy Frankel, associate professor of mathematics, said.

The pilot for this model will begin in the 2018 fall term.

The impact of the mathematics faculty extends well beyond the college classroom, as well, the release stated. Several instructors serve as advisers for student societies and organizations.

“We offer opportunities for students to explore mathematics and ideas that are not normally presented to students during the first two years of college,” Mark Crawford, associate professor of mathematics, said. Crawford also serves as the adviser for Mu Alpha Theta –the Math Honor Society – and as a co-adviser for the Mathematical-Engineering Club.

Some of these opportunities are meetings with like-minded students to solve challenging problems presented by university math departments and competitions that offer prizes and scholarships, added Crawford in the release.

Another project that the mathematics faculty is working on involves local high schools. The department is collaborating with high school math faculty to assist with the development of courses that will be designed to support Illinois’ Post-secondary and Workforce Readiness Act signed into law in 2016, the release stated. These courses will help prepare high school students for college-level math courses, as well as entry into the workforce.

“I feel that our department excels at fostering a culture of mathematics at Waubonsee to help students achieve these skills necessary for their future," Crawford said in the release. "Many of these students have become successful students at Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois and Illinois Institute of Technology."

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