Virginia TechMath Emporium Visit – March 2007
A “moveable” section of the Emporium is used for proctoring exams.
A “pod” consists of six workspaces, each with adjoining desk areas. Students ask for assistance by placing the red cup on top of their computer.
The acoustics allow for conversations without disturbing neighboring students.
Started in 1996 • Championed by Mike Williams, Math Professor and (at the time) Director of VT’s IT department • Initial motivation: Financial crisis at VT • First course: Matrix Algebra freshman course for Engineering students • Supported by the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT)
Completely on-computer/online – no classes except for a short orientation session in the first week of classes • Considerable cost savings • Student success and retention somewhat similar to traditional classes; format does not seem very popular with students • Problem: topics of high conceptual demand (e.g., eigenvalues/eigenvectors)
Support personnel (UG and GR students, instructors, professors) available Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to midnight. • Teaching credit formula: 1 TLC = 2 hours on the “floor”. • One helper for every 24-30 students • Software and coursework developed in-house. • Needs careful planning – IT, crisis management protocols, lab has raised floor…
Students can work at home on their computer or in the Math Emporium. • Students can take unlimited un-proctored practice quizzes. • Frequent deadlines for completion of proctored quizzes and exams to prevent student procrastination. • Quizzes and Exams are random-generated and multiple choice.
As of today the following courses are “taught” in this format: • Matrix Algebra • College Algebra • Precalculus • Calculus for Business and Life Sciences • Next: Mathematics for Architecture • Considered “worthwhile” when enrollment exceeds 500 students per year. • Not used for the Engineering Calculus sequence