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Operation 4-Sight

Homer Simpson

(- Homer Simpson, singing, upon finding out he's been admitted to college)


Operation Foresight proposed to take the Mathematics Learning Centre's program and bring it back to the students at the high school level, thereby allowing them an opportunity to improve essential mathematics skills before entering university. Success in the pilot project meant students could enrol in their mathematics courses immediately upon entering Memorial. Students met every Tuesday night from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at O'Donel High School, Mount Pearl. The project ran from February 2001 to May 2002.


Methodology

Self-instructional with tutorial assistance. This course was an academic bridging program in which the student filled in the gaps in his/her mathematical knowledge. Each student was assigned a personal program and a minimum amount of work was required to be mastered.


General Aims of the Course

The course provided students with the basic arithmetic and algebraic skills necessary for everyday life, and provided the mathematical preparation needed for successful achievement in further courses in post-secondary mathematics.

Topics covered in the program included: operations involving whole numbers; fractions, decimals, percents; integers; exponents; linear equations; algebraic and fractional expressions; formulas; graphs; systems of linear equations; radicals; quadratics; logarithms and basic trigonometry.


Attendance

Attendance was compulsory, and, if your attendance in the programme dropped below 80%, you were terminated from the programme.


Individualized Programmes

Programs were designed for each participant, based on the results of diagnostic tests which were written at the commencement of the course. Thus the content of individual programs varied.


Tutorial Assistance

Because everyone worked on an individualized program, no lectures were given. However, tutorial assistance was available, on a one-to-one basis, throughout the course.


MLC Programme

The Mathematics Learning Centre Programme is NOT self-paced. The textbooks we use are written in a "self-study" style so that students can learn much of the content on their own. But the classroom experience is essential for the student to put the mathematics in context so that s/he knows how to use the mathematics effectively and meaningfully.


Evaluation

Learning is a process which cannot be adequately evaluated by tests alone. To obtain a mastery of the MLC programme, a student must satisfactorily complete assignments, in-class activities, as well as, module tests. This can only be achieved through regular attendance at classroom sessions.


Our Philosophy of Learning Mathematics

Mathematics is a subject which builds upon itself, not unlike a house. If you are building a house, the first thing you put in is a foundation, then you put up the walls, and finally you put on the roof. In a similar fashion, when you are learning mathematics, first you learn some addition facts, and then you use that knowledge to learn how to multiply, and then you use your knowledge of multiplication to learn about division. All of mathematics is like that, so if someone misses something early on in their schooling because they are sick, or move, or whatever, then it makes it very difficult for them to learn any mathematics which comes after that uses the knowledge they don’t have. That is the primary reason that many people don’t do well in mathematics.

To avoid this happening in our programme, we use the MASTERY concept of learning. This means you do not go on to study higher levels of mathematics until you have demonstrated a good, solid knowledge of every bit of mathematics required to do the next level. The required standards for mastery in our programme are given in the self-tests included in the Student Manuals.

Learning to do mathematics is not unlike learning how to dance, or play the piano, or golf, or play hockey or basketball. To be good at any of these activities, one must spend hours in repetitious practice of laws of exponents or pirouettes or scales, or a golf swing or skating backwards or dribbling. You can participate recreationally without this level of commitment to the activity but universities aren’t about a "recreational" involvement with learning.

A familiarity with mathematics is nice. Understanding mathematical concepts is fine. But to participate in post-secondary courses involving mathematics, there is an expectation that the student can DO mathematics. This does not come with mere familiarity and/or understanding; this comes with hours of practice, much of which is repetitive.

Mathematics is meant to be useful. Answers which are 70% correct are not useful. Therefore we demand answers which are 100% correct.

Our learning materials place an emphasis on building essential mathematics skills and fostering independent study habits. The learning and exercise sequence will ensure that new terms, concepts and processes are well understood before they are used in solving more complex problems. Explanations are given which relate new concepts and skills to what you already know, and fundamental skills are used to solve relevant practical problems.
All things considered, you will have an excellent opportunity to enhance your knowledge of mathematics.




The best part about being a member of Great Big Sea is the opportunity to perform traditional music around the world,
the worst part is the tedium of getting there.


- Quote from Bob Hallett of Great Big Sea on the band being named "Memorial University’s Alumni of the Year for 1999", taken from Luminus Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 1, Fall 1999, Memorial University of Newfoundland Alumni Association.

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