December 9, 2017

The Quad [Dec. 9-16]: Four things to know from WPI, Becker and QCC

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Becker Post Presentation

Courtesy of Becker College

From left, Georgia Johnson, Jakaa Campbell-Branch, Becker College President Nancy Crimmin and Allana Tonelli-Raylove at the school's Senior Poster Presentation.

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WPI allows applicants to self-report test scores, saving on application fees

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has joined a growing number of colleges and universities that allow students or their school counselors to self-report their SAT and ACT test scores, saving money and time for prospective students.

Previously, students had to request that their scores be submitted via the agencies that administer the SAT and ACT, which collect a fee from students for each school being sent the scores. These fees are in addition to those that students spend on registration each time they sit for a standardized test.

As of the start of this month, students applying to WPI who wish to submit their test scores can do so directly. Students who are admitted and plan to enroll are then required to submit any scores officially, via the testing agencies.

The number of schools adopting the policy has grown considerably in the past six months. Nearly 90 schools with the policy are listed by the Princeton Review. “Though the fees may not seem terribly high, they do add up for students,” said Andrew B. Palumbo, WPI dean of admissions and financial aid.

In 2007, WPI piloted an admissions policy that no longer required students to submit their standardized test scores — which have been shown to skew against females, underrepresented students of color, and students from families with lower incomes. Despite this test-optional policy, the majority of WPI’s applicants still submit scores, and the university expects this latest policy change to further reduce barriers for top students across the United States to apply to WPI and other universities on their college list.

Becker seniors display Animal Studies and Natural Sciences experience

Seniors from Becker College’s School of Animal Studies and Natural Sciences presented their research and externship experience to the Becker community recently at the annual Senior Poster Presentation.

The subjects ranged from marine mammal research in Hawaii and rehabilitating wildlife in South Africa, to lab animal management at UMass and postsurgical care for patients.

The event was an opportunity for students to share their work and findings in their respective fields of study with peers and future colleagues. Family, friends and dozens of faculty and members of the Becker community attended.

Presenters summarized and displayed their work on posters and discussed their research during externships at places including: Harvard University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, MIT, Sea Life Park in Hawaii, UMass Amherst, U.S. Humane Society, Columbia University, World Vets in Nicaragua, New York University, Oceans Research in South Africa, and University of New Hampshire.

QCC accelerated math classes add up to success

Through Quinsigamond Community College’s accelerated math program, students can increase their chances for success while completing their degree in a timely manner, data show.

Accelerated math classes are longer classes taken over a shorter period of time. A two-year study done by the college showed that students consistently passed the accelerated math classes at a higher rate than both traditionally scheduled classes and classes taken online. Accelerated math courses had a pass rate that was 12 percent better than traditional schedule courses, and 25 percent better than courses taken online.

According to Dr. Leslie Bolinger Horton, dean of the School of Math and Science, the math department had looked at the success rate of students taking summer sessions, which are traditionally offered in longer time blocks for a shorter period of time, and found the success rate for these types of classes outpaced the more traditional and online classes.

Then, she said, “We tried the first fall accelerated math classes of Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra in 2015 and found that students advanced through the developmental math classes and segued into college math in a shorter period of time, with a high rate of student success.”

The college’s accelerated math classes allow students to take their math classes twice a week in three-hour blocks, as opposed to traditional 50-minute math classes that meet three times a week. Students have the same learning requirements as those in traditional face-to-face and online classes; however, with the duration of each class period being longer, students are able to complete their course in just seven-and-a-half weeks as opposed to 15.

These longer time blocks allow students more time to process content and provide professors with more time to help individual students, as needed.

While one might normally think accelerated math classes would only be for the student who is drawn to mathematics, it has been shown that a longer period of contact time in class with the professor is what all students seem to need. “We checked the success rate last spring, and in every case students showed a higher success rate than the other more traditional and online methods of learning,” Dr. Bolinger Horton said.

To learn more about QCC’s accelerated math courses, visit

Paul Mathisen named director of WPI’s Office of Sustainability

Effective Jan., 1, civil and environmental engineering professor Paul Mathisen will succeed John Orr as director of WPI’s Office of Sustainability.

Liz Tomaszewski will continue in her role as Associate Director of Sustainability.

Mathisen has a breadth of experience and passion for work related to sustainability — particularly on water-related topics. He has worked in conjunction with Orr on the university’s sustainability plans, and was particularly involved in the academic and research aspects of those efforts. He and Orr co-chaired a working group to assess WPI’s current strengths in sustainability, and develop goals and objectives for advancing sustainability in the future.

Under Orr’s leadership, the WPI community has made great strides in increasing sustainability on campus, from hosting multiple recycling events and building bioshelters for the local community to promoting sustainable transportation and ensuring campus buildings are as environmentally friendly — and LEED-certified — as possible.

The school’s dedication to sustainability doesn’t stop at the campus borders. As director, Mathisen hopes to highlight WPI’s work in spreading awareness and expertise in the sustainability field.

“I’ve worked more on the ecological and engineering sides [of sustainability],” he said, “and we’d like to promote the conversation and recognize other perspectives, as well.”

Read the entire story on the WPI website

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