Sinclair offers a math lab at its downtown Dayton campus where students can meet with a tutor or use computers to use programs or listen to recorded lectures.

Sinclair gains national attention for its math class makeover

Area colleges are teaching math in new ways but perhaps none have received as much national attention for their advancements as Sinclair Community College.

Sinclair began looking at ways to restructure math courses in 2009, said Kathleen Cleary, associate provost for student completion. The college tried to refocus math offerings so that the math classes a student takes apply to the career field he or she is interested in.

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Sinclair has also tried to cut down on remedial math classes so that a student doesn’t have to take two or three classes before the one they need for their degree. Instead, the school offers one-week refresher courses referred to as math “boot camps,” Cleary said.

Sinclair also offers a specialized “math lab” in building one on the school’s campus in downtown Dayton. The lab offers students space to study and the chance to be tutored by faculty and other students, according to Sinclair.

“Some of it is really just common sense and thinking it through,” Cleary said.

The school made the changes to try to boost completion rates and the alterations proved successful. Course completion has increased from 71 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2016, Cleary reported.

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During the 2017 academic year Sinclair awarded an estimated 4,600 degrees and certificates, up from 3,292 during the 2013 academic year. If estimates pan out, that would mean Sinclair has seen a 40 percent increase in credentials awarded over the last four years.

Those high completion rates are what garnered Sinclair interest from colleges around the country.

Michigan’s community colleges are retooling to try to achieve graduation rates similar to Sinclair’s, Cleary said. Graduation rates at Michigan’s community colleges are low, with only 13.2 percent of the state’s 108,386 community college students in 2013 having transferred or obtained a degree by 2015, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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Sinclair has received about 20 to 30 calls and visits per year from other colleges interested in the school’s math programs, Cleary said. Interested colleges have come from all the way from Austin Community College in Texas to a school in Spokane, Washington that Cleary said she was heading to during the last week of May.

“They come from all over,”Cleary said.”We’re just trying to help.”

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