UWF math program has most students in state of Florida

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

The University of West Florida’s Master of Science (MS) program boasts more students than any other university in the state and is the only program that can be taken fully online.

“Our program is quite unique,” said Kuiyuan Li, distinguished university professor and chairman of the Math Department at UWF. “It is the only one of its kind in Florida. We can teach students online and give them the option of pursuing a single course, several courses or the whole program.”

Li believes that the option to obtain the degree completely online is what raises the number of UWF students enrolled in the program higher than any other university in Florida. In fact, UWF is the only university in the state to boast more than 100 students in the program, according to data obtained from the State University System of Florida.

The program allows the professors to teach a live, face-to-face class that streams online for distance students and  is also recorded, allowing for immediate feedback not available in other online courses.

The program was originally designed for math teachers who could not come to campus to take classes, but had an interest in earning their master’s degree. However, it was quickly determined that the synchronous program could be useful to any student.

There are currently 108 students enrolled in the MS program at UWF. According to years of assessments on both the fully-online and the on-campus aspects, the department concluded that students perform nearly identical in either scenario, yet have greater convenience and flexibility with the online option.

“The nature of online courses is useful to any student,” said Li. “It allows not only for immediate feedback for distance learners, but also encourages the instructor to perfect their course material. About 90 percent of our distance learners are math teachers who already have jobs and are looking to expand their horizons.”

The flexibility of online learning is a great benefit for students and pushes faculty to deliver teaching at a higher level of excellence, according to Li.

Of on-campus students participating in the MS program, 70 percent end up with a teaching job, 10 percent enroll in a doctorate program and 20 percent find jobs in other areas.

“One hundred percent of our students have jobs or find jobs after they graduate,” said Li.

Military students have also found the program to be helpful, as classes can be recorded and viewed at the student’s leisure.

“The synchronous aspect is important to most of the students, especially those in the military. They can review the recordings at a time of their choosing,” said Morris Marx, a math professor at UWF.

Every classroom in the School of Science and Engineering is equipped to stream online. The MS program also generated about 3,600 hours for the College of Arts and Sciences from summer 2008 to spring 2011.

“The professors in the math department are extremely responsive to your needs,” said Nicole Richards, a graduate of the program. “They genuinely care about each student, which means the world when you are so far away. Without this program, I would have never been able to obtain my master’s degree.”

UWF is committed to the region it serves, affording opportunity and access to higher education for anyone working toward a better future. By providing cutting edge resources for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, the university is remaining relevant and useful in today’s ever-changing learning environment.

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