Making the connection between math and business engages at-risk math students and helps them learn successfully.


Math has been the bane of many a student’s existence – but help is at hand. Students in the Business Foundations and Ontario Business programs at the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning are receiving help in building their math and business skills by taking part in the college’s HP Catalyst project “Business Math”.

This project is part of the HP Catalyst STEM-preneur consortium. Studies have shown that a significant percentage of first semester students either fail or barely pass mathematics, which puts them at risk of not completing their chosen program.

Connecting math concepts to entrepreneurship and the business world helps students see the real life relevance of what they are learning.

The Conestoga Catalyst project targets these students. A business math lab, which includes 45 HP Elite Tablets, an interactive white board and use of online learning tools, videos, and collaborative software, will serve as the cornerstone of the project.

“We’re using technology and a variety of different means to improve these students’ base skills in math so when they continue on they’ll be more successful,” says faculty member Lisa Koster. “We’re also trying to connect math concepts to entrepreneurship and the business world so that students can see the real life relevance of what they are learning. For example, we regularly have entrepreneurs come in to talk to us about how they use math in their day-to-day business dealings.”

With this in mind, hands-on workshops in budgeting and business planning will be offered in addition to math tutorials for struggling students.

In the second phase of the project, a mini-lab consisting of ten HP Elite Tablet PCs will be deployed to support the addition of more business math courses.

Koster and her team received the HP Elite Tablet PCs late in the Fall 2011 semester, and implemented them in business math classes. While it is early in the project’s life cycle, Koster is already seeing the positive impact the tablets have in the classroom.

“With the tablets in front of them the students are more involved,” says Koster. “One student put it perfectly. He said: “with the tablet in front of me, I can’t help but pay attention.’”


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