Kiwanian Kaye Smith presented Brooke Newman and Nicole Flowers with certificates recognizing their achievement.
Newman is a second-year Kiwanis scholarships winner and Walker Valley High School graduate studying in college to become a math teacher. Flowers is a Bradley Central High School graduate and plans on majoring in biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Also receiving the award is Ester Michaud, a nursing student at Cleveland State Community College.
It was fitting these individuals were recognized for their academic achievement because the guest speaker, John Squires, department head of mathematics at Chattanooga State, detailed the changes in Chattanooga and Cleveland State’s math programs that have earned the colleges national recognition.
Last year, President Barack Obama recognized Cleveland State’s new educational model in a speech made before a crowd of educators.
Squires informed those gathered that a breaking from tradition is what made all the difference in the world.
“We stopped the traditional lecture,” explained Squires. “Reason one, what goes on in a lot of traditional lectures is that you have two or three students paying attention and everyone else ... who knows what they are doing? Students are texting and staring out the window.”
He went on to explain that in the traditional lecture setting the student engagement was very low, and because of that students would be highly resistant to doing homework and practicing the skills being taught.
Instead, the schools placed all the resources the student needed on the schools’ computers and gave the students CDs that would allow them to work from home.
When professors stopped lecturing the students started working, according to Squires. Also, without lecturing the teachers were able to devote all their time to providing assistance to students who had questions.
The other significant change was to the grading scale. Instead of the old one, the colleges went to a system where students have to maintain at least a 70 percent average in all categories of the class to pass.
That means students need a 70 percent or higher in participation, quizzes, homework ... etc. But, the department also lowered the value of every test, quiz and homework assignment and increased their frequency to create a less threatening atmosphere.
Since the changes, the math programs have been recognized nationally for their success and cutting-edge teaching methods.
However, Squires stated the best part of the changes is watching students succeed.
He shared a few stories of students who before the program could not pass classes like elementary algebra, but, after the changes were put into place, went on to love math — even to the point of taking college level statistics for fun.
Squires shared that in a number of studies, results proved students in programs like Cleveland State’s and Chattanooga State’s were twice as likely to pass developmental math and college level math; additionally, almost all achievement gaps were closed, and as a result the programs have exploded in enrollment and are thriving.
That translates into more educated people coming out of these colleges and entering the workforce or going on to other higher education.