Mastery Math Lab and STEM Institute recognized as bright spots in education

Written by: Melinda Hoder

Aimee Viana, executive director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH), U.S. Department of Education, recently visited FIU’s Mastery Math Lab. Ms. Viana’s interest in the math lab stems from the fact that her office has twice recognized the lab as well as the lower division math program. In 2015, the Mastery Math
Lab and project were nominated for and recognized by WHIEEH as both a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education and as part of the 150 Commitment to Action for increasing educational outcomes and opportunities for Hispanic students.

Aimee Viana listening to students

The director’s visit highlights the success of these labs and the WHIEEH initiatives. Overall, Ms. Viana was very impressed by the work that went into the creation of the Mastery Math lab program as well as how much preparation and collaboration are needed to maintain success. The math lab project was a key factor in improving graduation rates at FIU, and is a direct result of evidence-based strategies that support students and guide them to a timely graduation. The university is now ranked second among public universities in the state according to the performance scores released by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG).

At MMC, the first Mastery Math Lab (with over 200 computers) was implemented for all College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra students beginning in the fall of 2012. Lab 1 currently serves over 3000 students per year. In creating Lab 2 in 2016, FIU was able to expand faculty work groups and the mastery math model, and add math courses in humanities for students taking Social Choice Math, Finite Math, and Statistics for the Behavioral & Social Sciences. Students taking Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus Algebra can also use Lab 1. FIU is now in the process of building a third lab on the BBC campus. A pilot program was instituted in the summer of 2018 and plans are in development to continue the expansion with a permanent home for the new lab.

Ms. Viana, along with members of her staff, also visited FIU’s STEM Transformation Institute, the Tech Station, and the College of Engineering & Computing’s Transforming Antennas Center Student Poster Display.