Academic journal article American Journal of Educational Studies

Students' Preferences in Mathematics Labs

Academic journal article American Journal of Educational Studies

Students' Preferences in Mathematics Labs

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

A mathematics lab plays a crucial role in students' academic life particularly with activities related to Mathematics. Many universities have mathematics labs in different formats; handled by different strategies and have different institutional goals. The purpose of this study is to highlight students' preferences and attitudes towards mathematics labs in two-year and four-year colleges. A quantitative comparative study along with a qualitative analysis is carried to see the students' preferences on the role of the mathematics lab and how its use differs by gender, major, ethnicity, university level (freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior), and university type (two-year, four-year colleges). The study found that two-year college students use the lab more frequently than four-year college students. Moreover, two-year college students favor using the mathematics lab on utilizing their instructor's office hours. Furthermore, African American students and Hispanic students use the lab more often than other ethnicities. Among many studies that have been conducted on mathematics labs, this is one of the few that addresses the students' preferences towards an out of class activity environment such as mathematics lab. The results of the study will impact student life officers' decisions regarding mathematics labs management. Implementing the recommendations of the study will enhance the efficiency of the mathematics lab and will make it comfortable and more accommodating to students needs. The study initiates future research on students' academic needs through investigating their preferences rather than assessing their performance. This study focuses more on freshman and sophomore student population, therefore the implementation of the results is restricted to colleges that have similar student body and academic majors.

Keywords: Mathematics Lab, Mathematics Tutoring

Introduction

A constructive environment for ongoing study helps students to develop their understanding and maintain the learnt concepts for future use. College and university communities take action by providing such atmosphere for students, so classroom activities are pushed beyond the lecture halls. It is outside of the class where students meet and share something interesting they learn in lectures. This knowledge sharing is influential on students' education. The impact of this interaction is so powerful that it is independent of students' majors. Sometimes students combine their shared knowledge and that turns out to be a new application. Mathematics lab, also known as "Math Lab", "Mathematics Center", "Math Tutor Lab", "Mathematics Help Center" is one of the settings where these class activities take place. Generally, it is a place where students seek help from a tutor for their mathematics questions. However, the services a mathematics lab provides differ from college to college. For example, some colleges require students to get an appointment, other do it in a walk-in bases, some provide services only to low level mathematics courses where others serve all mathematics courses. In a mathematics lab, students can participate in activities related to mathematics, such as, studying, discussing mathematics problems, and asking questions to tutors. Activities beyond classrooms play vital role in students' education life (Carini, Kuh, and Klein, 2006). With the increasing rate of working students attending college (U.S. Department of Education and National Center for Education Statistics, 2002), a mathematics lab can substitute the limited available time of professors as students can come to the lab after daily work. Moreover, the lab as a place for out of class activities can also increase retention rate (Gilardi and Guglielmetti, 2011). Furthermore, as blended learning becoming more demanded (Allen and Seaman, 2010), mathematics lab can play an essential role in providing more assistance to students. It can also offer many options to learners, such as individual tutoring, peer tutoring, group activities, and computers with needed software installed. …

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