Program offers mathematical solutions for incoming freshmen

Math mentors and tutorees

Northern Arizona University has been recognized for its math bridge program and its effectiveness in boosting preparedness for incoming freshmen.

University Business magazine honored NAU’s Peak Performance Mathematics Bridge Program in its Spring 2016 Models of Excellence.

The voluntary program is entirely online and geared toward incoming freshmen and transfer students who place below the first math class in their chosen field of study.

Students agree to invest at least three hours a week for the six-week summer program. Participants schedule weekly video meetings with peer mentors, upperclassmen who provide one-on-one tutoring and also offer insights to NAU and its campus services.

NAU began using a math placement test in 2010, replacing other diagnostic tools and identifying greater numbers of students who could benefit from additional help. Enrollment in the remedial math program, which offers personalized content, nearly doubled during a two-year window.

“We retest students after the program’s completion and students who improved their math placement score are offered enrollment in a higher-level math course,” said Mary Fulé, coordinator of the Peak Performance Mathematics Bridge Program.

Fulé and her team conduct a survey at the program’s outset and its completion, measuring students’ confidence levels about math and attending college. “We analyze the data and responses to ensure the program is meeting the goals and the needs of participants,” Fulé said.

The need for math improvement measures is prevalent among incoming freshmen, and previous efforts are not sustainable for this sizable population, said University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “Northern Arizona University’s free summer program offers a flexible alternative for incoming students to sharpen their math skills and maximize their credit hours.”

The magazine also recognized NAU with its 2015 Model of Excellence Award, highlighting the Peer Jacks Student-Mentoring program, which facilitates the transition to campus life for out-of-state students.