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Math Success at Smith

Many career paths and majors involve mathematics and/or quantitative skills (even seemingly non-mathematical ones such as computer graphics animation, journalism, or environmental activism). Math, like any other skill, can be developed through practice just like a muscle. Regardless of your current comfort level in mathematics, you can develop an individualized training program to build those muscles, and ultimately achieve your career goals.

The Math Success at Smith team is a group of faculty and staff across the college who are interested in retaining students' interest in STEM+ and enhancing their persistence in STEM+ courses by supporting the students and providing resources. All of us are passionate about helping students succeed! Please contact the team through mathsuccess@smith.edu.

At Smith, we offer opportunities for math success to every student. Here are a few elements of successfully completing mathematics or statistics courses:

  • Choose the correct course. Conversations with instructors in the Department of Mathematics are often the best way to determine what course you should take. During orientation, the "Conversations with Faculty [and Instructors]" at the Indoor Track and Tennis facility and the "Information Fair" on Chapin Lawn offer you opportunities to discuss your options. You may also want to read about the calculus sequence and read to the "Courses" subsection "Choosing Your First Mathematics Course" on the Department of Mathematics webpage.
  • Understand where your skills are now. Some instructors give an assessment at the beginning of their course, and as an entering first year student, you will have access to using an online adaptive learning tool called ALEKS (click the link for an explanatory video and a Frequently Asked Questions section).
  • Review prerequisite material. Your instructor may have links to review material or may direct you to review sessions (such as the Review Workshops offered by the Spinelli Center) or to tutoring sessions to make sure you have the needed foundations for the new material.
  • Seek help early and often.
    • Your instructor wants you to come to office hours. You don't need to have a "good" question, you can ask half-formed questions or just go to get to know them! Go to your instructor's office hours early in the semester so it will be easier to go later when you have more, or more difficult, questions.
    • Math TAs hold drop-in hours, as do the Q-Tutors and the Calculus Counselor.
    • Similarly, Stats TAs and the Data Counselor (and some Q-Tutors) have drop-in hours for help with statistics and data science courses.

Current Initiatives

The Math Success at Smith team is piloting online experiences to help new students even before they arrive on campus.

The first initiative (Summer 2018) used the ALEKS tool an online adaptive learning tool (the acronym stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Space). Approximately 88% of students who used the ALEKS assessment thought is was worthwhile, and of those who used the interactive review modules, 85% thought it was a good way to refresh or review certain math concepts.

Our current initiative (Summer 2019) implements a summer bridge program called ONEXSS (Online Experiences for Smith Scholars) by building on a similar program that has shown success at Yale. Gary Felder and Daniel Schultheis are working with Smith student mentors to guide the math preparation for nearly 40 entering fist-year students.

Video Introduction about Math Success at Smith

If you have further questions, please contact us at mathsuccess@smith.edu!

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Copyright © 2017 Smith College, Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning
Seelye Hall, Room 207, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063
Tel 413.585.3091  |  Questions? Contact us  | July 29, 2019

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