Secrets Why Students Excel in Math

                   By Vic Odarve

 Math intimidates and frightens the students but there are few who did excel or perform far better and more consistently than their peers. Simply, they have their secrets…put a regular effort in their studies, hang with classmates with similar goals, and build a reputation for excellence. By keeping regular study on the notes after the class develops good retention of the subject; associating with fellow good learners can improve time management and developing positive attitude in order to excel. No wonder, these students are on the top of their Math class.

Engineering Students 200 level

Engineering Students 200 level

The study showed that the first in a two- hour lecture is the most effective period for memory retention. Faced with this dilemma, a review after the class is needed to recover part of the time where memory retention was least. Reading the notes for a few minutes after classroom strengthen further your memory. Any lapses and misunderstood notes can be easily corrected. Develop this habit regularly makes math understanding perfect!

Another behavior among students who excel in mathematics is that they select their friends. By keeping in a company and hanging around with good classmates or friends who always study mathematics in their school also bring a tremendous change in their behavior, lifestyles, manners, and actions. Oftentimes students slowly and slowly emulate one’s friend’s way of living in one way or another. Look, associate, and surround  only  with friends that give with positive influence; hang only to those that are supporting and enhancing their life, and filter their background and stick to one with the same mission and ambitions in their life. Select friends that are good math performers; they belong to their tribes. Top math performers have good time management for a study and outside classroom activities. They often hang with them.

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Lastly, these students build a proper attitude to excel in mathematics. They do always the best that they can. In a classroom, they listen intently how teachers did the steps in solving math problems and think mathematically more than memorizing of facts. They often spot patterns in solving problems; systematically seek why and prove the steps. They always strive for the best grade. With competent teachers, coupled with a positive attitude, these students develop a kind of flexibility and creativity; hence, excel in mathematics.

With proper motivation and empowerment from a competent math teacher coupled with these behavioral tips and secrets from students who excel in math, more students will be no longer intimidated and frightened in mathematics.

Why do some Universities Teach Better?

         By Vic Odarve

Some universities teach better than others; hence producing the best quality of graduates. People believe that the performance of these universities largely depends on their management style; may a private or federal government funded. Whatever the reasons, these universities that teach better have common denominators, as follows;


1.Highly qualified lecturers/teachers. This is the main factor that contributes to the student’s academic success or educational quality. Mathematically speaking, knowledge to be imparted from the lecturers is directly proportional to what lecturers are having.With highly qualified lecturers, there is a predetermined body of knowledge that the teacher should pass on to the student.

These universities believe that the qualifications and competency of the lecturers bear some direct correlation to their work as lecturers.  Retention of these lecturers/teachers maintains the good performance of the institution.  Good lecturers foster student mastery of more rigorous and challenging academic contents. They can create a positive learning environment in the classroom. These lecturers allow students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged – something that all students deserve. The academic success of any school depends on the instruction provided by the hands of able, high quality and committed teachers.

Engineering students

       Engineering students

2. Strong management supports to teachers/lecturers/students. These universities do have a strong support to the lecturers as well as students by having seminars, upgrading activities, incentives, and other forms of relevant enrichments.  Some do have programs for students such as allowing them to spend time in a clinic, establishments, or school to observe the work of a professional in the field. In most cases, the students may participate in the work in addition to field trips and on the job training.

3. Sufficient and modern laboratory facilities. These universities do have better and updated laboratory equipment and apparatus to meet the advancement of science and technology. Hands- on- training develops student skills and first -hand knowledge application from the classroom lectures. Students can conduct experiments that replicate or illustrate a scientific principle introduced in the course. Laboratory experiments are important in courses such as Physics, acoustics, thermodynamics, and mechanics. Laboratory sections usually augment lectures or discussions in the classrooms. Speech laboratories allow students to listen to audio tapes or use other interactive forms of instruction. These laboratories can provide necessary training for students’ creativity, insight, and analytical skills.

Advising student

                        As adviser

4. Offer competitive salaries. These universities offer attractive salaries to the lecturers. Good salaries tend to attract more competent teachers. The managements believe that with good salaries, lecturers would stay longer at the university, meet the cost of living, bring contentment to the teaching profession, and drive motivation in the day to day activities in the classroom.  The management does not focus too much on monetary profit.

 Universities with the above features teach the students better; hence producing world class graduates – extremely well prepared for high skilled-level jobs globally and potential for future world leaders and great statesmen. In contrast, low-performing schools do not give much attention to the above school environments.

Perception of Mathematics as a Difficult Course

                 By Vic Odarve

Students, as well as parents, used to perceive math as one of the courses that give them headaches and nervous throughout in their educational career. There is a perception that those who have exceptional math grades after secondary level may enroll math extensive courses like engineering and computer science, while those who have poor have then enroll in other courses. They never realize that mathematics can be learned like any other courses. We are all created mathematically capable.

Rocket Irie

Rocket Irie- Math learning at an early age

The perception that math is difficult intensifies as science advances. Math is the language of science; hence it follows in that direction. Parents usually complaint that they could not help their students’ assignments as the lessons are out of their own world of understanding. Because of this perception, students, too, escape courses that cover extensive mathematics; and instead choose those with few mathematical descriptions. This is how they perceive; math puts them in frightening mode.

On the same line of perception universities and colleges require enrollees to pass qualifying entrance examination before accepting a particular degree. Math is the backbone of such examination. The qualifying entrance exams will determine the student’s fitness/capability for the career to choose. Those with good math scores for math extensive careers while those on boundary line may choose other fields of discipline.

Final Exam- Mathematics

Final Exam- Mathematics

But no matter how difficult mathematics is, the skill to understand and master the course can be learned. Except for those few gifted individuals, skills to manipulate and analyze mathematical concepts can be developed through hard work and dedication. Einstein, for instance, was not impressive in math during college days such that his professors did not recommend him for a university position after graduation in 1900. It was his work, dedication dealing with mathematical investigation concerning the foundations of field physics that yielded the elegant equation E= MC2.

Einstein- creator of E= MC2

Einstein- creator of  E= MC2


Wrong perception about math generally generates fear and passivity to learn and as a result your life becomes a whole mess. Like Einstein, success does not just come by accident. You work yourself through it. Have the courage to break away from negative perception and set the pace and others will follow.

How to Develop Student’s Math Skills?

                                   By Vic Odarve

Like a game of chess, math involves analyses, deep understanding, and practice. Analyzing every steps as to why it is necessary is very critical in math calculations. Coupled with the analyses, deep understanding of the given information related to the problems makes the situation clear; hence solution will appear. Finally, practice by reworking similar types of math problems will give the students a thorough understanding. These habits develop student’s math skills.

Math lectures

Math lectures

Yes, in math, analyses of the full problems must be pictured out. These include the given information and the questions about the problems. Then think of the approach, methods to be employed, and the principle to be involved that you think will work on the problems, leading to its solution. If however you could not get through, review the lecture notes, if whatever, how the teacher works on the similar problems. Your approach can be different, but it can still be just as effective and yield the same answer. This prepares the students perk up to think of possible results; thus developing their mathematics skills.

Math exam

Math exam

Like the game of chess, deep understanding on every movement matters. With a sound foundation in the theories and principles, math problems can be worked out simpler. It also builds confidence. If it involves complex formulas, break it down into little parts. Analyze and read the steps. If you don’t understand, take a break. Your brain will continue to work on the problem subconsciously. You will often find that after a little work on the steps that initially baffled you, these make sense. Hence, it would be necessary to strive to understand mathematical concepts and its applications and what the math problems are all about. Understanding will develop your skills in math.

Madonna University , Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Practice math by reworking the same problems until no hitches on your solution. Work on your own until you are familiar with the type of the problems. It will give you an experience of what occurred. If you get stuck up, see your lecture notes. On applied math problems, always check your final answer if it is logical or reasonable. Always check the units of measurement involve as units sometimes will tell you that you get a mistake. Rework your classroom math problems at home until you are confident that you can do it alone. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Math is difficult but with the habit of analyzing, understanding the formulas and concepts, and ceaseless practice, it will grow your skills. And who knows that one day, you will become a mathematician.

Math Examples that Keep Students Challenge

                                     By Vic Odarve

Solving math examples in different methods but yield the same answer is itself a challenge.  And it works; keeping students at bay!

This approach allows the students to learn the principles of each method of solving same examples and develop mastery. As they master the different methods, students can readily compare the results with ease and build confidence. As confidence builds up, they challenge math problems by doing themselves; hence math becomes easier and simpler.

Solving math problems by different methods can surprise many      students, even the stupid ones. Math teachers, an expert in this field and speak with a power of persuasion, keep students’ eyes, glue to the board; ears listen to every discussion, and silence throughout the classroom. For example, in Algebra, find the value of x in a quadratic equation by factoring, by completing the square, and by the use quadratic formula. These three methods of finding the solution work differently but yields the same answer. This way the students learn three math principles in just one example. Furthermore, they can spot the differences, and mimic the teacher’s steps in arriving the final answer. Students feel great, satisfied, and enjoyed by learning three different approaches. This develops mastery of the course. Of course, a surprise and challenge!

Working Examples

Working Examples

Solving single math problem and obtain the same result using different methods also allows students to check and compare the final answer; hence the process builds up their confidence. Students turn this great opportunity to learn more methods; thus, increasing their math knowledge. These environments keep them changing, growing, and learning more math; thus becoming them to be an expert. Since all the methods yield the same results, they are motivated and making great grades… one of the top class math performers. The approach does build their confidence. Henceforth, as confidence develops, students challenge themselves in solving math exercises and problems.

What were the results? Some students came to the office smiling and showed their solutions confidently; others wanted to discuss how they got their final answer. Sounds great and fulfilling! It all begins with single math example that keeps the student’s challenge.

Join our Jogging,Please!

                                            By Vic Odarve

How to get the students in shape, stay fit, and have fun? Madonna University has an answer… jogging! Every Monday morning for girls and Tuesday for boys! At 7am, around 5000 students must go out from the hostels and prepare for a 1.0 kilometer run affair. It’s a jogging time! Jogging keeps students always in shape; thus, promotes healthy life, and improves study concentration. It also keeps students stay fit; burning excess fat and enhancing the immune system. It is fun, and promotes camaraderie, as well. Now, join our jogging, please!

5000 students prepare to jog

5000 students prepare to jog

Jogging is running at a slow or leisurely pace; thus, increasing physical fitness with less stress on the body than from faster running, or to maintain students always in shape for healthy life. Virtually all the students can do it. The school, on the other hand, believes that regular

Jogging at Madonna University Campus

Jogging at Madonna University Campus

exercise enhances the student’s mental well-being along with their physical health. In fact, numerous studies indicate that a student’s achievement and physical fitness are positively related. It also helps to boost self-esteem, relieve depression, and improve concentration. That’s the way the students should be!

It also keeps students stay fit; may enhance the immune system. It

Boxer Manny Pacquiao jogs everyday before fights

Boxer Manny Pacquiao jogs everyday before fights

stimulates the brain to release chemicals which reduce anxiety and create a sense of well-being. The study demonstrated that regular exercise such as jogging brings considerable health gains that emphasized cardiovascular fitness. During jogging, sympathetic nerve fibers increase heart rate. For a 90-

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee jogs to maintain his fighting form

Martial arts legend Bruce Lee jogs to maintain his fighting form

kg students running at 9 km/h (5.5 mph), approximately 880 calories are burned per hour.

But for some of the students who joined jogging with thousands of their classmates are for fun. After a few minutes of important announcement the game started by stretching exercises evidently to loosen their muscles prior jogging properly. Then the students, with a loud voice chanting jogging along the 1.0 km circuitous paths in an oval university playground, offered the visitors a thousand smiling faces; and laughter could be heard along the way. It promotes camaraderie and friendship.

Today, jogging is established as both a recreational pursuit and a training tool; it is practiced by boxers and martial artists and similar sports minded individuals to get in shape, stay fit, and have fun. Manny Pacquiao, a Filipino professional boxer, the first and only eight-division world champion, in which he has won ten world titles, as well as the first to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes, used to jog everyday in a high altitude mountain in Baguio City, Philippines months before the fights. Martial artists Bruce Lee preferred to run every day, rain or shine to maintain his fighting form. He used to run at Big Bear Lake because of the altitude– it makes it an ideal location to train for any event. Running at high altitudes is one secret to building endurance for any fight.

For the students, jogging, as a physical education course, forms part of their curriculum. But the benefits are keeping the students in shape, stay fit, and have fun. Since physical exercise such as jogging and spiritual health are both important, one need to strike a healthy balance. 1 Timothy 4:8 puts it,” For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all affairs, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”. So, it is clear that jogging is not only for students. God wants all people from all walks of life to have physical exercise to become physically and spiritually fit.

So, join our jogging, please!

Why Mathematics Needs Imagination

                                                By Vic Odarve

For many students, Math is described as a difficult course and only a few are interested; that is why imagination helps to understand, appreciate, and challenge how this course works. Unknown to many, imagination keeps various mathematical equations and formulas stay in our minds; keeping us to understand how it works in real worlds and of course, their limitations. As Mother Nature expresses her beauty through mathematics, from Newton’s law of motion and Kepler’s laws in revolving planets, imagination keeps us appreciate the beauty and grandeur of our planet and the universe we live in. And a lot more, our imagination would keep us challenged to investigate math secrets and its function in the mysteries the universe has. Understanding math is more like doing an imaginative play than anything else!

Mathematics brings anxiety and stress to students

Mathematics brings anxiety and stress to students

Math consists of interwoven equations and formulas, and imagination would keep the students considering how math works in tangible worlds. Imagination adds our knowledge in quantum and cosmic worlds because variables or quantities involve in the math equations, develop only in modern science labs and scientific experiments which are often out in our real senses. In quantum mechanics, for instance, particles behave differently from the classical mechanics. In cosmic science, some mathematical formulas and equations developed from years of observation in various astronomical phenomena like an event horizon, a quantum singularity, the expanding universe, the uncertainty principle and many others. But Einstein’s equations, where time is not constant, and his conversion ratio between matter and energy, are clearly a result in imagination. Prediction formulas, too, which are the product of probability and statistics, also come from imagination. Hence, imagination helps us going to get deep into equations with mathematical relationships between different things.

There is no ugly mathematics. Math is always beautiful.

There is no ugly mathematics. Math is always beautiful. The beauty of math can be further appreciated by imagination. Mother Nature teaches us math; from the plant leaves to the cloud formations and the intricate webs of heavenly bodies stretching into the cosmic ocean are mathematical wonders. Beautiful and intricate applications of mathematics are illustrated in the complexities of our natural world such as the golden ratio, Fibonacci sequence, fractals and the honeycomb conjecture. The simple twig of a tree is a fragmented geometric shape, look like the branches which they grow on, which look like the tree itself—a math beautiful expression! Another one is a hexagonal shaped honey combs created by the bee, it is geometry in action. And these are all around us. Mathematical equations give us understanding Mother Nature’s mind and discover how the laws of physics are working. The existence of these laws keeps us appreciate the beauty of understanding mathematics.

Beautiful monuments and natural landscapes are the expression of  mathematics 

And much more, imagination would keep us challenged to investigate math further; unlocks some of the secrets and discover the things we don’t yet understand. Some mathematical laws discovered are so strange that keep our mind-boggling and expanding. Through imagination, we are just like playing equations in our mind and think how it works in different circumstances and challenge to solve some of the mathematical problems. Newton and Leibnitz, for example, imagined how to solve areas of figures bounded by several curves, developed integral calculus; Laplace developed the method for solving differential equation; and probability and statistics for gambling or game of chance.

For math-intensive career like engineering, it is through the imagination that students can play around various math equations and formulas. Imagination is a driving force that leads to many inventions and innovations and what brought us to our present state of civilization. Math is not math until it is understood, appreciated, and challenged. And it needs imagination!

The Joy of Helping Others

               By Vic Odarve

My office is open to all students except on some special occasions. And one day, a student came to my office asking assistance on how to derive the famous Einstein equation E= mc2. Upon recognizing that he was not my student, I asked him “How do you know that I can derive the equation?”My friend told me, Sir”, he replied warily.

Final Exam

              Fr. Edeh’s Arch Exam room

Then on another occasion, students came to my office bringing laptops and asking more tips on solving problems on matrices, statistics, and linear programming using MS Excel. The same thing: most of them were not my students! Then I asked them, “How do you know that I can help you?”Our friends told us, Sir”, they replied in unison.

“No problem”, I said to myself. I love to help students. A little help would mean a lot to them. These students are resourceful and they are making the best of things while I am still in this university.


                  Seminar Workshop

Then one day somebody knocked my office door. I was surprised. He was not a student! He was a university teacher and an owner of a mall in the community. He requested for a website design offering assistance for campus students! I was overwhelmed! I was wondering how he got the information. Without asking questions and hesitation, I made one for him! Later I found out   that students told him that I am making a website for free.

That was it! I designed a website for free. It was a good website design and it attracted students’ attention. It became a big hit in the campus! The news spread like a wildfire in the entire university. Students were asking who design the website! The word was spreading.

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

Madonna University, Elele Campus, Rivers State, Nigeria

After a few months and upon their request, I conducted a seminar on website design inside in the campus. The seminar drew much attention to students and community people alike. There I found myself speaking in a huge crowd that I never expected. My heart filled with joy. I could see on their faces how happy the students and community people were!

That’s how the things started. From a student who came to know the E= MC2 and ended on a seminar engagement on website design!

This is life. A little help makes a big difference to our neighbors. Just by helping others freely without expecting something in return! Helping others by sharing your knowledge gives you a happiness that money can’t buy. The events become the opportunity for growth. It motivates us to do more and make our life fulfilling. You feel that you are adored and loved by the students as well as the community people. Sharing our knowledge to the less fortunate makes you always feel happy. It also brings joy to our neighbors, too! You have done something good to your brothers and pleasing to the eyes of our Maker. The bible says,

“Let each of us bring joy to our neighbors helping them for the good purpose, for building up.”
– Romans 15, 2

I did it for the glory of God the Father! And to the one sitting on His right hand where no angels and prophets were ever admitted!



                Meet my new friends… DR SHEELENDRA MATHUR AND KUMKUM!


I knew them before. Just a little bit of friendship! Smiling and greeting at a distance once we met each other. Nothing more! Just an ordinary way a friendship could bring! Then the couple left the work here in Madonna University and returned to their homeland in India for good. That was it. It was about a year or two had passed. Time is running so fast like a wheel of fortune to where our destiny goes.

Unexpectedly we met again at Annual International Convention of Intellectuals and Experts held at Madonna University, Elele campus, River State November 14 – 18, 2012. We met, eat, and shared together for several days at the campus compound. Things turned round and round as if the world became smaller every day.

That’s how our friendship developed into a stronger bond that sharing joy and laughter were part of our moments together. So what are friends for! Philippines and India…..  world apart.

The picture above is one of the moments that bind our friendship. It is the thing to be cherished and remembered that once in our lifetime we were here in Nigeria. We made funs and laughter…. with some friends from India and Philippines. This is a souvenir of a lifetime in this part of the world where Father Edeh reigns supreme. In years to come you may look back this picture and reminisce the past how our friendship brings forth in the days of our youth.