Southwestern will prepare admitted students for academic success this summer by offering a new program called Embracing Quantitative Understanding and the Inquiry Process (EQUIP). Associate Professors of Mathematics Alison Marr, Ph.D. and Fumiko Futamura, Ph.D. are leading the program, which will take place immediately following Southwestern’s June 13 Admitted Student Day.

The program is made available through generous gifts from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and H-E-B through its office of Public Affairs, Diversity and Environmental Affairs, and will be offered free of charge to 20 selected students interested in pursuing an education in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) discipline. EQUIP will include five nights on campus with math classes, activities, and social events.

“We will focus on pretty intense quantitative skill building, and thinking about math in a different way than they have normally thought about it—and also connecting it to the sciences,” says Marr.

The program was developed to help students get acclimated to the way teaching is approached at Southwestern, which is inquiry-based, hands-on, and interactive.

“A lot of the material and curriculum that Professor Futamura and I are developing is really focused on the students and exploring ideas, which is what we aim to do in our classes, as well,” says Marr. “This is likely different from what they’ve learned in high school where they might be used to just listening to a lecture.”

Students will engage in the classroom by collaborating in group work, individual problem solving, or presenting to their classmates.

The week will also introduce the future students to what life at Southwestern entails, while providing opportunities to set academic and career goals. The students will also learn about the increased depth of understanding and time commitment required for college-level work, and introduce the students to current STEM majors—who are conducting research this summer with faculty mentors.  

All participating students will receive one academic credit and a tablet computer after completing the on-campus portion of EQUIP. The program will then continue with an online component that will allow the incoming students to work on skill building through worksheets to keep math skills fresh over the summer, with online office hours also available. When the fall semester begins, students will be enrolled in Calculus I together and meet with Marr and Futamura twice a month.  

Southwestern plans to assess participating students’ satisfaction and further success in STEM courses to determine whether to continue, and potentially expand, this opportunity for first-year students in the future.