College algebra is becoming a little easier with the opening of the Math Emporium, a computer and tutorial lab as part of a new initiative to help students with the basic mathematics courses.

Rather than attending the traditional three lectures per week, students enrolled in college algebra will attend one lecture each week. The other two class periods will be in the 5,800-square-foot learning lab in Pickard Hall, working through software and video-based lessons with help from graduate teaching assistants.

The Math Emporium concept was pioneered by the National Center for Academic Transformation, a nonprofit that focuses on incorporating technology and innovative ideas to control college costs. Low passing rates for college algebra and similar lower-level mathematics classes is a national problem, with students spending time and tuition dollars on classes they must retake or risk not graduating.

“It’s the first time we’ve done something like this for college algebra,” says David Jorgensen, associate professor of math, who oversees the emporium.