Laura Ferguson, above, a nursing student working on the frontlines of COVID-19, credits her math professor, Marie Caruso, with helping her tackle the subject.
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Middlesex Community College — like other colleges and universities across the world — had to transition spring 2020 coursework and student services to remote, virtual and limited-contact systems. As a leader of award-winning online education for over 20 years, Middlesex reacted quickly to continue helping students on their academic paths.

It was a team effort for MCC’s Math Department.

“The Math Department as a whole has been having Zoom get-togethers every few weeks to check in with each other,” said Linda Dart-Kathios, an MCC Math faculty member. “We were able to record a message of encouragement to our students this way. It has been a lot of fun and certainly a stress relief for many.”

Math faculty members were a beacon of support for their students and for each other. The collaboration ensured that students had access to the resources, knowledge and tools they needed to succeed, according to Dart-Kathios. Faculty recorded lectures and shared them on Blackboard to be viewed at any time, in addition to including written documents and PowerPoint slides.

In real-time virtual sessions, faculty used a whiteboard feature to have students practice problems and breakout sessions for small group work. Having the chat feature allowed students to work through problems with each other.

To help, faculty gave students more time to complete tests and assignments, especially as students became more familiar with completing the assignments online. Faculty also ensured that students had access to one-on-one instruction when needed and offered virtual office hours, individual sessions to go over problems, and mini-lecture videos to address specific problems and concepts.

Making sure students were aware of tutoring via Supplemental Instruction (and the Academic Center for Enrichment was also important.

Matthew Rondeau, an MCC Math student and tutor, believes the Math Department was communicative with students throughout the semester and understanding of those who had technology issues or other problems. Although tutoring over a virtual system was a new experience, Rondeau was happy to still be able to offer help to those who needed it.

“The math faculty was great,” Rondeau said. “Everyone I worked with — as a student and as an ACE employee — did such an amazing job. It seems as though the school came together and everyone did their best to make the semester work.”

Laura Ferguson is an MCC Nursing student who has always struggled with math. She was working on the frontlines of the pandemic in a testing tent and found remote learning to be intimidating. Guidance from her professors made it easier.

Ferguson calls Marie Caruso, an MCC adjunct faculty member in Math, and Susan Hutchinson, MCC’s academic adviser, “miracle workers” for helping her get through her class.

“Professor Caruso was amazing,” she said. “She fully supported me, got involved in helping me succeed, knowing I had limited math experience and work in health care. I truly believe they wanted me to succeed and that because of their incredible support, they have become a treasured part of my journey.”

While the pandemic presented many challenges globally, Middlesex came together as a community to continue providing students with the tools needed for success.

“I love the people at MCC,” Rondeau said. “Other students, faculty, staff — they are what make the school. I made my experience more personal than I ever thought was possible.”

MCC’s Summer Session 3 and Fall Session will feature enhanced online options. To register, visit www.middlesex.mass.edu/registration or call 1-800-818-3434.