PEI

UPEI math tutoring project draws interest from hundreds of Island students

UPEI's faculty of education is looking at offering regular math tutoring sessions after a higher than expected response to a research project.

P.E.I. students on wait-list for the after-school tutoring program

UPEI education Prof. Tess Miller looks over an instructional video she created as part of a research project. Miller is using videos to teach math tips to kids in Grade 4 to Grade 8. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

​UPEI's faculty of education is looking at offering regular math tutoring sessions after a higher than expected response to a research project.

Prof. Tess Miller is running the project, which looks at whether or not instructional math videos make a difference in student achievement.

I give everybody strategies and they can just pick out what one works with them.— Prof. Tess Miller, UPEI

Miller wanted to know how she could help students struggling with math.

"Over the past year and a half I have been developing these videos," she said.

Visual learning

Next week, Miller will start eight weeks of one-hour tutoring sessions after school for kids in Grade 4 to Grade 8, using videos she's created on math basics.

"The idea is, to bring students in and give them the help that they need and let them watch these videos, but still have an interactive class." 

Then, Miller can measure student achievement and obtain data.

Miller uses the videos to visualize difficult concepts. Some people may know how big a decimal is compared to another but if you add a visual people can grasp it more easily, she said.

"Without that picture students typically make a guess and so do adults."

I felt horrible that I couldn't address the needs for everybody.— Prof. Tess Miller, UPEI

The program teaches math tricks like taking a larger number in an equation and breaking it into smaller, easier to manage pieces.

"I give everybody strategies and they can just pick out what one works with them," Miller said.

She said math skills are important when it comes to future employment.

"So many careers are linked to having a math credit and understanding of math," Miller said.

Island students on wait-list

The response to the tutoring project has Miller looking at ways to offer more free, after-school tutoring.

"We know there is a need, and we're trying to find something we can hopefully get up in the next year," she said.

Right now, Miller can only accommodate 50 students at UPEI, but the project has gained a lot of interest from Island parents and students. Miller said she has a waiting list between 150 and 300 students looking for help.

"They [parents] know their kids need help, they know math is important, but they don't know what to do."

UPEI was unable to offer any more sessions, so Miller said she had to turn people away.

"I felt horrible that I couldn't address the needs for everybody."

The level of interest in the project also has the university exploring the option of setting up a literacy and numeracy centre to help struggling students.

However, without additional funding, the program probably won't be offered again until next winter, Miller said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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