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Lab solves math challenges

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[/media-credit] Based on Michael Fenton’s observations, students who attend lab receive an increased understanding of math as well as higher test scores.
Although the campus offers ten math classes ranging from pre-algebra to AP calculus, all math students learn to expect one thing: Michael Fenton’s open door during off-hours for math lab.

“I started doing math lab to help kids out who need some extra time to understand math,” Fenton, math department head, said. “Fifty minutes in class can help some students understand, but two to four minutes of one-on-one attention in math lab can make a huge difference.”

Based on Fenton’s observations, students who attend lab receive an increased understanding of math as well as higher test scores.

“Students who attend math lab get higher test and homework scores (than they previously did) and better overall grades in their math classes,” Fenton said. “They also get an overall understanding of math and they get excited about it when they understand.”

In effort to improve test scores, Zach Camden, ’11, attends math lab. He also finds his homework understanding has strengthened.

“It’s a place where I can go if I have problems with my homework and I don’t have to feel embarrassed,” Camden said. “It helps you understand things better and really, to me, it doesn’t feel like school.”

With students in multiple activities, Fenton hosts math lab twice a day each week, Tues.-Fri., during lunch at 11:30 A.M.-12:20 P.M and after school from 3-3:30 in room 606.

“I decided to extend math lab because some students have extra curricular activities and could not go to it,” Fenton said. “I used to spend two hours grading homework, but now that I have the students grade their homework in class I have the time for two sessions, so students have a better chance of getting the help they need.”

Senior Anita Rahman attends math lab to receive help on specific aspects of math she struggles with.

“I like to do math and deal with numbers,” Rahman said, “but when I?m struggling with problems he [Fenton] can help me and I can do better.”

In addition to assisting students, Fenton enjoys the additional time with his students and believes that he gains teaching experience.

“During class, I am able to use examples from problems in math lab to help other students understand,” Fenton said. “I also get to spend more time with students. Also, for the record, since I have math lab, I don?t have to do lunch duty.”

While Fenton spends time teaching, outside of campus he attends courses at Fresno State University (FSU) and Fresno Pacific University (FPU).

“At FSU, I take Number Theory and Real Analysis,” Fenton said. “I am working on my Master’s project at FPU to get my Master’s Degree in Education which will be completed in May. I spend about 5-15 hours a week doing school work, and about 50-55 hours a week on work which involves my job.”

With all the work that Fenton does during a week, math lab often becomes tedious due to an already full schedule.

“Sometimes, math lab can get stressful, because that means that I don’t get a break for the first seven hours of the day,” Fenton said. “I sometimes get tired of math lab because once a month I am really busy, but other times I enjoy it. I think math lab solves math challenges.”

For more information on campus math classes, visit Suzanna Quiring’s April 25, ’07, article, Class questions math relevance.

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