The USF SMART Lab is a learning laboratory for math and science courses that utilizes best research-based practices for teaching and learning. The Lab is staffed by faculty and instructional staff who provide on-demand personalized assistance. In addition to the learning materials that are accessible at the lab and through the Internet, the SMART Lab provides students with the opportunity to receive one-on-one help from tutors, teaching assistants and/or instructors.
Seeing the difference: how the SMART Lab is helpful
Nationwide some college math courses, in particular College Algebra, have a reputation for having high failure rates, sometimes as high as 60%.
At USF, from 2007-2010 the average failure rate was 35% for College Algebra. From 2011-2012, the average failure rate was 27% for traditional lecture-based College Algebra classes but only 18% for the new redesigned pilot College Algebra classes, which employed a revised version of the the Emporium Course Model that has been used successfully at other research institutions.
Feeling the difference: how the SMART Lab is different
Traditionally, courses like College Algebra had 2 large lecture classes per week and 2 small breakout sessions with a TA for questions and answers. The redesigned SMART Lab courses have one or two large overview/discussion sessions per week but require a minimum of 2-3 hours in the computer lab per week.
Traditional courses also generally do not promote active and collaborative learning. Research and experience at other universities has clearly demonstrated that active and collaborative learning strategies produce greater success rates. In redesigned courses students spend most of their time actively doing math instead of passively listening to someone else talk about math. Additionally, in the redesigned classes students can get personalized assistance when they encounter stumbling blocks. Furthermore, SMART Lab courses address diverse learning styles, encourage mastery-level learning, and allow students to be more in control of their learning.
Requirements for students in a SMART Lab course
Attend overview session(s) each week in which a professor introduce students to the topics for the week and engage them in discussions. Attend a minimum of 2-3 hours per week (depending on the course) in the computer lab completing online assignments, study plans, and quizzes, all while having access to one-on-one tutoring help from graduate teaching assistants and/or tutors.
SMART Lab course offerings
A variety of classes are offered in the SMART lab format.
Success is the sum of small efforts,
repeated day in and day out.