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BBCC reports big increase in math enrollment


Enrollment in college-level math classes has set records this fall at Big Bend Community College.

College officials say enrollment in those classes has doubled since 2009, and increased 25 percent from fall of 2012 to fall of 2013.

The numbers are significant because approximately 95 percent of new students at community colleges need developmental math before enrolling in college-level math.

“It is unprecedented for a small rural college like BBCC to have full calculus classes in the fall,” said BBCC President Terry Leas.

BBCC is starting to see the results of its initiatives to improve math success.

“I have 21 students in Engineering Physics this fall,” said Jim Hamm, Engineering Curriculum Specialist for the federal STEM grant at BBCC. “The most I’ve had in the previous 20 years was 14 students.”

Part of the increase is due to the success of the Emporium Math lab; where students do problems in the lab with tutors, and watch lectures outside the classroom. This “flipped” classroom model helped BBCC improve student success in development math from 50 percent to 80 percent.

“More students are completing developmental math and are ready for college-level math,” Hamm said.

STEM Grant outreach and recruiting activities are another factor credited with increased enrollment in math classes.

“I’ve had more students talk to me about engineering in the last two years than in the previous 18 years combined,” Hamm said. “Word is getting out.”

BBCC was awarded a Title III STEM Grant (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) for Hispanic Serving Institutions in 2011. The grant, which provided funding for the new STEM Center and the Emporium Math lab, appears to be a good investment.

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