Math Camp Helped Freshmen Sharpen Skills Before Classes Begin

About ninety incoming freshmen used the past three weeks to sharpen their numerical skills at Math Camp, a three-week “boot camp” to help them prepare for math-intensive majors.

This was the second year for Math Camp, an optional summer program designed to provide a thorough review of concepts from Math 119 and 130—two important pre-requisites for math-intensive majors or other majors requiring certain math skills.

Senior Lecturer Kevin Sukanek helps Alexandra Howell of Spring Hill, Tennessee, during a session of Math Camp. Ninety incoming freshmen spent the past three weeks in the "boot camp" to help them prepare for math-intensive majors.

Senior Lecturer Kevin Sukanek helps Alexandra Howell of Spring Hill, Tennessee, during a session of Math Camp. Ninety incoming freshmen spent the past three weeks in the “boot camp” to help them prepare for math-intensive majors.

One of the programs Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek committed to during a White House meeting two years ago, Math Camp is part of the university’s efforts to enhance student support and improve retention and graduation rates.

During a typical morning session, senior lecturer Tracy Cook worked equations and plotted graphs on an overhead projector while students watched intently and took notes. Senior lecturer Kevin Sukanek wandered around the lecture hall, stopping to help students struggling with numerical enigmas.

Freshman Denisha Patrick of Memphis said she attended Math Camp to help her prepare for the rigors ahead.

“I was a straight-A student in high school but I wasn’t really challenged and I knew that there was much more math I needed to learn,” she said. “Math Camp really helped me because the instructors broke down every concept effectively in a short amount of time.

“It is very important that I understand and excel in math because I am a biology major. I plan to become an anesthesiologist, which requires a strong math and science background.”

Freshman Alexandra Howell, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, said she hoped Math Camp would give her the ability to place out of entry level courses.

“Math camp really helped me with these concepts by providing a review, and touching on subject I hadn’t yet learned,” she said. “Being a business major, math plays a big role.”

Math Camp participants stayed on campus and had instruction from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. each day. They attended a two-hour lecture in the morning and spent two hours in recitations––small group sessions—in the afternoon. Tutoring was available each day from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. Camp counselors also hosted programs, from pizza parties to movie nights to painting the Rock, that were designed to help students transition to university life and the Knoxville community.

Last Friday, the final day of Math Camp, each student had the opportunity to take an exam for placement into the required math class for their major.

Last year, eighty students attended Math Camp. Fifty-seven percent of those who took a math placement exam at the end of the course were placed into the more advanced course needed for their chosen majors. The others started with college algebra, but were well prepared to succeed in that course.

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)