Math doesn’t always come easily to every student, but this semester, Professor of Mathematics Ilesanmi Adeboye relaunched Math Jam, a supportive space for students to seek peer assistance for their math-related school work.
“Math Jam is an additional resource for students taking math classes intended to complement the Math Workshop, CA sessions, and professor’s office hours,” Adeboye said. “The difference is in the set up. Space is available for students to come on their own, or in a group, to work on homework sets or study for exams. Experienced tutors are available to answer questions as they come up. One can think of the old school ‘study hall’ model.”
Math Jam holds sessions every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in the Vanguard Lounge of the Center for African American Studies, located at 343 High Street. While the tutors mostly specialize in introductory math, they can also assist students in higher level courses, including those in economics, physics, and statistics.
“The mathematical background that students arrive at Wesleyan with varies significantly,” Adeboye said. “The idea was to bring students together, in a supportive and informal setting, to let them get help and find study partners in an environment where they wouldn’t feel they needed to ‘compete’ with peers that were further ahead. As it turns out, such a community-based approach has an even wider appeal than to just the audience we originally thought of.”
Zyaire Sterling ’22 became a tutor for Math Jam after taking a course called Differential Equations with Adeboye and later working as his course assistant.
“The most enjoyable thing about Math Jam for me would have to be the feeling after helping a student solve a problem,” Sterling said. “It’s a great moment for me and the student. The student gains knowledge on a topic they may have not understood prior and I’m able to be that person that was able to help them gain that knowledge. It’s a win-win.”
After hearing about Math Jam from Adeboye, Osama Elgabori ’22 agreed to become a tutor. Elgabori’s favorite part is working with peers to solve problems.
“We both end up learning something together in our discussions,” Elgabori said.
Henrick Koo ’23 has attended Math Jam over the course of the semester and found it to be very useful, especially because of the casual nature of the sessions.
“Everyone is super friendly so people can work freely and ask about any questions you have,” Koo said. “Sometimes TA session hours constraint the number of questions asked which leads to not getting personal help, depending on how many people show up. Math Jam is a comfortable space that meets twice a week so you can almost always get personalized help on any questions you have.”
Elie Feinsilber ’23 emphasized that Adeboye’s presence at the Math Jam sessions also works to improve student experiences.
“He pairs students and tutors depending on the course in question,” Feinsibler explained. “I remember going to a math workshop where the professor was unavailable because (they were) helping students for a first-year course, and I left with my question unanswered. This does not happen at Math Jam. Professor Adeboye makes sure that you receive help.”
Terrion Thirsty ’25 felt encouraged after going to Math Jam and expressed how supportive Adeboye and the Math Jam tutors are.
“Math is a real friction point for me when it comes to school and Math Jam provides a space where I feel comfortable bringing my questions,” Thirsty said.
Anyone looking for math help is welcome at Math Jam. Adeboye highlighted the communal nature of the tutoring sessions and the connections that students have forged.
“Students coming for help from the same class find new study partners,” Adeboye said. “In some cases, tutees end up themselves tutoring students in classes they have already taken. At Math Jam, there is time and space for conversation, and give and take, on subject material.”
Adeboye added that Math Jam also seeks to broaden the accessibility of the mathematics field so that everyone feels comfortable and supported in their math work.
“While Math Jam serves everyone, our primary mission is to broaden the franchise of mathematics throughout the Wesleyan community,” Adeboye said. “First generation students, underrepresented minority students, the math shy, and the math phobic are especially encouraged to stop by.”
Sterling, too, emphasized the open and welcoming nature of Math Jam.
“Math Jam is an evolving initiative and it continues to grow every week,” Sterling said. “Anyone who thinks they would be a good fit to help tutor or anyone in need of help in math-related courses is always welcome. Come check us out!”
(Photos by Willow Saxon ’24)