A professor walks in and says, “Math test today, good luck!” Cue the fear.
For some students, testing in general creates a level of unease. Math testing on the other hand can cause a level of panic that leads to inability to pass the class.
On Tuesday, Learning Specialist Paul Nolting visited Colorado State University to discuss strategies for everyone to be able to facilitate learning in order to achieve success. There were workshops throughout the day for professors, students and tutors.
Nolting began to work on ways to maximize learning while finishing his doctoral degree.
“I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 1987 on helping students who had failed algebra one to five times. I was the first person to do the research on helping those students,” Nolting said.
Nolting went on to write a few books and became a nationally recognized speaker. He has traveled throughout the world discussing success strategies.
“I never planned to write books or do any of this. I was asked to,” Nolting said.
Nolting spent the day explaining to CSU students that the strategies that have been used in the past aren’t going to be as useful in the future.
“Most of us take math tests like we do in elementary and middle school. We get the test, put our names on it and take the test. That’s not how we should be taking the test. Before putting our name on the test, we need to write down the formulas,” Nolting said.
He explained the best ways for professors to facilitate their teaching, strategies to use when teaching and ways to help students analyze their tests.
According to Nolting, the first question on his tests is “memory data dump.” It gives the student a place to put down all of their formulas, information and thoughts on the paper prior to the test itself. As the student takes the test, they have the ability to look back at the formulas and catch any mistakes.
According to Katie Williams, senior social work major and Resources for Disabled Students intern, Nolting was very beneficial for the professors, and some of them plan to implement his strategies into their teaching.
“I went to the professor session this morning. It seems really good because the professors can change how they teach. They can adjust it so it helps everyone,
students with and without disabilities,” Williams said.
In addition, Nolting explained the importance of the tutors. He said that, more than anything, the tutors are “academic coaches” and that once they understand the best way to facilitate the information, everyone will be successful.
“The cheerleaders are good, but the coaches will yell at you and tell you how to do it to get better,” Nolting said.
During a keynote speech to an audience of about 30 people, Nolting explained that the breakdown of the percentages surrounding success in math courses shows that the majority is based on a careful selection of the course that the student takes.
“About 25 percent of your math grade is based on how you study, study skills and how you cope with anxiety. Twenty-five percent is the quality of the instructor and the other 50 percent is if you are in the right math class,” Nolting said.
Nolting explained a number of tips for dealing with anxiety, test taking, studying and teaching. He said that if there is a drive, there will be the intended result.
“You’re only persistent if you think you can change,” Nolting said.
Nolting’s book “Winning Math” provides information and strategies for everyone and is available for purchase in the Lory Student Center Bookstore.