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Math Works

New program helps students ace placement exam

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News Feature

Tiana Jurisic, ’20, admits she hates math. So, you might be surprised to learn she voluntarily spent part of her summer studying the subject.

Tiana participated in Bridgewater State University’s new Math Readiness Boot Camp, which is designed to prepare students to score high enough on a math placement exam to avoid taking a non-credit developmental math course.

“It’s never been my strong subject,” said Tiana, who is majoring in criminal justice and political science. “I knew I did not want to go into a non-credit course and spend money and have to do another one after it (to fulfill a graduation requirement).”

But, after completing a recent two-week boot camp session, Tiana scored high enough to go directly into a required, for-credit math course. Many of her peers in the boot camp achieved similar results.

Organizers expect 65 to 70 students will partake in the program, which is taking place this summer thanks to a BSU innovation grant. The free camp seeks to prepare students to improve their math ACCUPLACER exam score.

Donna Russo, ’72, the director of math services in the Academic Achievement Center and a part-time math instructor, leads the camp. Students also receive support from Chan Young Koh, ’19, a BSU student and tutor, and Michaela Santos, ’14, G’17, an academic coach.

“The hope is through that teamwork, we reach the unique and very specific needs of each student,” said Pat Carley, G’18, the boot camp project coordinator.

Ms. Santos works with students on note taking, time management, study habits and other skills that are relevant across the academic spectrum.

“While it applies right now in this boot camp, hopefully they take some of the things discussed and apply them to their broader classes,” she said.

Students learn math through lectures, worksheets, group assignments and other activities. The program covers topics such as algebra, fractions and decimals, Ms. Russo said.

“I hope they take away more confidence in their abilities,” she said.

Tiana praised digital elements of the course such as online Kahoot! quizzes. Ms. Russo excels at making sure students understand the material, she said.

“She didn’t make us feel stupid for not knowing the most basic stuff,” Tiana said. “A lot of us struggled with fractions and decimals. She was patient. She went over it as many times as needed. She left us a lot of time to ask questions and practice.”

For more information about the boot camp and to sign up for the final session in July, visit the Math Placement Test website. (Story and photos by Brian Benson, University News)

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