Math on Their Own TERMs

The Weber State University developmental math program is moving toward a new, technological way of offering its courses.

Technology Enhanced Redesign of Mathematics (TERM) utilizes a Web-based computer program to help students more effectively learn math at their own pace.

In a TERM instructional setting, students meet each week for one hour in a classroom and spend a second hour in a TERM computer lab. In both the classroom and the lab, students work on math using the Web-based program, and faculty and peer tutors provide individualized help. Students also are able to work on the Web-based program from their home computers or any computer with an Internet connection.

To accommodate the new TERM curriculum, the Lampros Hall computer lab is being exclusively designated as a resource for TERM students beginning spring semester 2010.

Kathleen Lukken, co-chair of the TERM steering committee, is quick to point out that the TERM program, with its emphasis on Web-based learning, actually gives students more individualized attention from faculty, not less.

"During a typical course lecture, it is almost impossible for a faculty member to address each student individually in terms of what content needs clarification for that student," Lukken said. "In a TERM instructional setting, students are working on math, and faculty and peer tutors are there to immediately assist each individual student."

Instead of teaching students in a lecture-based format, faculty do the majority of their teaching one-on-one with students, explaining concepts that may be particularly unclear.

"Faculty are helping students at the point when students most need the help," Lukken said. "This is the ‘aha' moment faculty seek with their students and find particularly gratifying."

This individualized attention also enables students to either move ahead or stay behind the curriculum. The TERM program has deadlines, but students have much more flexibility to meet them. This allows students to complete more than one course in a semester. Alternatively, it allows students to take more than one semester to complete a course. When they register for the course again, they can resume right where they left off the prior semester, without having to repeat information.

Other institutions, like the University of Alabama and Cleveland State Community College, have been using technology-enhanced math programs for several years. Each has seen an increase in their pass rates from around 50 percent to 70 percent. WSU's developmental math program expects similar results.

"A TERM curriculum removes most, if not all, of the math anxiety many developmental math students have after trying over many years, often unsuccessfully, to learn math," Lukken said. "Students are less anxious in a TERM environment because all course assignments, homework, quizzes and comprehensive exams may be repeated multiple times as students work toward earning a passing grade."

TERM will be included in all sections of Math 950 next semester and will be incorporated into all developmental classes in the summer semester.

"Students tend to like the TERM approach because, to a great extent, they are in control of the learning experience," said John Thaeler, developmental math director. "The program will set minimum standards, but students quickly move from meeting the minimums to shooting for the maximums. The TERM approach may result in better grades, but it's not grade inflation so much as work inflation."

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Jon McBride, office of Media Relations
801-626-6347 •
Kathleen Lukken, co-chair of the TERM steering committee
801-626-7103 •