Math Jam program changes perceptions of learning potential

Free workshop spans four days, gives vital lessons


Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Mathematics professor Edward Cruz presents note-taking strategies to his Math Jam cohort in AA-103 on Jan. 21.

By Denis Perez, Staff Photographer

Math Jam is a free three-day accelerated learning program organized by HSI/STEM for students who need help with mathematics.

Math Jam had its 2016 Intersession on Jan. 19 to 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m for the day program, and Jan. 19 to 22 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. for the night portion. Students who attended Math Jam engaged in college-success counseling workshops and activities.

HSI/ STEM Grant Program Coordinator Kelly Ramos said Math Jam aims to supplement students’ needs.

Ysrael Condori, HSI/STEM staffer, said that Math Jam is able to break academic and social barriers through community building in an environment where students build relationships with counselors, STEM professors, tutors and other students. Condori said students who participate in Math Jam are loaned the math textbooks for the courses they planned to take this semester.

Students are diverse in many ways but something they might have in common is a fear of math.

Natasha Singer, music major, said she had not taken a college class since 1995. Singer said she didn’t take college seriously and instead became a singer in a “hardcore” band. 

After moving to New York and creating a three-song EP, available on iTunes, she said she returned to college ready to gain a degree and pursue a career as a music teacher.

She said she realized life is about raising her 7-year-old child, and not about money or fame, but in order to raise and support her child using her love for music she needs to pass Math 118.

“Three days (of Math Jam) changed my life,” Singer said. Math Jam has given her affirmation that she can get through school after 21 years of being out of school.

Opl Franklin, sociology major, said she had not taken a math class since last year.

Franklin said she is grateful to be able to shake all the rust away from her math skills thanks to this program. She said she is also happy that she doesn’t have to stress about buying her textbook, only returning it back to the Bookstore.

Both Franklin and Singer had fears about math classes but both of them now agree that the Math Jam counseling sessions have removed that fear by allowing them to connect with students who also struggle with math.

The Math Jam staffers created a sense of empathy and connectedness when they shared their personal lives with the students Singer said.

Jeilo Guana, psychology major, said he is considering transferring to UC Santa Cruz after being accepted, but is still open to other possibilities.

Guana said he attended Math Jam two consecutive times. He said Math Jam program is a mixture of psychology and math class.

“It’s perfect,” Ramos said about the fact that students in Math Jam are being prepared by people who will later teach the math courses they need to transfer. 

Guana said students who participate in Math Jam are less likely to be intimidated by social barriers because of “ice-breaking” activities with other students and teachers.

Ramos said Math Jam collects data from its participating students after every session and HSI/STEM staff has found that the program is working.

She said that Math Jam has been “evolving” since its start four years ago because of the routine surveys that ask for student opinions. 

For example, Math 125, Algebra for Statistics, is a new course that was created because of student feedback.