Boeing grant supports peer mentoring program

Helping students succeed in mathematics is a passion of Associate Professor Sandy Cooper, which is why she has developed a peer mentoring program in several foundational WSU courses. With financial support from a Boeing grant, she began with the pre-algebra course and has since expanded the program to include courses such as college algebra and business calculus.

Mentors help in various ways with a course they recently completed. The mentor is an undergraduate student who has been nominated by previous math instructors and is then selected by Dr. Cooper. For example, a student who completed and excelled in pre-algebra may be nominated as a peer mentor for the pre-algebra course the following semester. Instructors are looking for mentors with strong communication and math skills.

Peer mentors meet regularly with course coordinators to discuss how to meet student needs and the program runs differently for each course. Some peer mentors offer extra review sessions in the Math Learning Center or in classrooms on campus. Students can receive extra assistance from peer mentors before an exam, have a peer mentor review their homework before it is submitted, or receive assistance on topics in which they may be struggling. In other courses, peer mentors attend class and help students work on activities during the class period.

Because they have recently taken the course themselves, peer mentors are able to relate and better understand the challenges students face. Added benefits include strengthening the mathematical foundation and skills of peer mentors and providing them with teaching experience. Although peer mentors aren’t paid, they receive a gift certificate for the WSU Bookie as a thank you for their hard work throughout the semester.

Always a strong and steady advocate for students Cooper has worked tirelessly, and relentlessly, behind the scenes to provide opportunities for students to succeed in their courses. She was instrumental in the creation of the Math Learning Center (MLC), a heavily-utilized center that provides free tutoring for students in mathematics and statistics courses. She was also instrumental in helping facilitate the creation of a WSU STEM Residence Hall, and was a key player in implementing an accurate Mathematics Placement system for incoming students taking mathematics courses at WSU. A true professional, she currently serves as Director of Foundational Curriculum in Mathematics and has redesigned several entry-level mathematics classes that have resulted in favorable student outcomes.

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Combined from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics e-newsletter and website.