Students, math department benefit from library renovations

Construction on the third floor of Mabee Library has been underway throughout the summer. The math department will use one of the three new classrooms for a more active and interactive learning environment.

Charles Rankin

Students returning to campus this week may notice some construction happening in Mabee Library.

Renovations to the third floor of the library began over the summer and will continue through the first part of the fall semester. What was once an open area for quiet studying is in the process of being turned into three new classrooms dedicated to the success of students.

One of these classrooms is designed to help students to succeed in math.

“Working with the math department, we’re going to change the way we teach introductory math at Washburn,” said Alan Bearman, dean of libraries and the center for student success and retention. “We’re going to use this special classroom designated to math for students to work on their math skills in a computer-based environment.”

Bearman said that this “math emporium” will be open with the library’s hours and will allow students access from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., which will give them the flexibility to help them succeed.

Kevin Charlwood, chair of the mathematics and statistics department, said that this new classroom was conceived as a student success initiative a little over a year ago.

“Because the Center for Student Success is housed in the library, that’s how we’re kind of partnering with them,” Charlwood said. “They had some space where this construction could be done rather than creating a whole new building which is kind of a hard sell.”

Charlwood said that, while a new building could cost millions, this has a projected cost of around $500,000, therefore, it makes sense as a cost-effective measure.

With this new space, the math department will be able to help students in many different ways, including through tutoring. Charlwood said that some of the department’s tutoring services will be moving to the library. Upwards of 50 students arrive at the department for tutoring on a normal day, and up to 100 students arrive on days leading up to tests.

“Our lab in [Morgan] 252 is not very big, so basically what this will mean is an expansion on tutoring services,” Charlwood said.

Contemporary College Mathematics, MA 112, which was formerly known as Essentials to Mathematics, is changing to a more active and interactive format. Moving into this space will help students with this change.

“This new class space will have whiteboards all around the room, a short throw projector up front and there will be five configurations of six learning pods,” Charlwood said.

Each pod will have a desktop computer that will allow a student to login to an online learning system.

Charlwood said that adding a classroom allows the department to offer classes at the most popular times as well.

“A two in the afternoon class is just not going to do real well for a lot of reasons, and 8 a.m. is also not a popular time,” Charlwood said. “Just having that extra space for peak demand times is also very helpful so we can offer more classes when students want them the most.”

Ultimately this new learning space is designed to help students succeed. Charlwood said that he understands that math is a difficult part of learning for a lot of students and believes this space, especially the interactive elements of it, will help them be more actively engaged with the work and ease the difficulty that so many students face.