“I think math can be intimidating for a lot of people,” said Glenn Hughes, graduate teaching assistant for the mathematics department. “I believe that if you approach it and talk about it in a casual way, like you would any other subject, that can take away the fear factor associated with higher-level mathematics.”
Originally from Houston, Hughes is a graduate teaching assistant for several calculus classes.
“I got my undergrad degree at the University of Houston, and now I’m working toward my master’s degree here at Auburn,” Hughes said.
He said mathematics was not the path he initially wanted to take.
“I had a couple false starts,” Hughes said. “I was in the Army for four years, and I was originally a physics major to begin with. One specific undergrad math course opened the door and showed me that it’s less about just cold, hard computations and that it’s more about interlinking various abstract concepts together. I guess you could say it’s more like art.”
Hughes said he strives to help his students view calculus in this way.
“I often hold a lot of office hours,” Hughes said. “Generally, I spend six hours outside of the classroom the week before the test holding informal review sessions for my students.”
Joshua Chu, senior in applied mathematics, said Hughes will work with his students for as long as it takes to solve a problem or understand a concept.
“I had Mr. Hughes for Calculus I, and he was easily one of the best teachers I’ve had,” Chu said.
Hughes said he keeps his standard for success high, but he does not want to exclude anyone from reaching that peak.
“I hold myself responsible for putting forth as much effort as I can to helping the students do as well as they possibly can in the class,” Hughes said.
Chu said Hughes goes above and beyond what is expected of GTAs.
“He tries really hard to make sure you understand the information, even if at first you don’t,” Chu said. “He is very approachable. There’s a lot of professors on campus that make it hard to talk to them and get a concise answer to your problem.”
Hughes said he wishes he had been taught in the manner that he teaches.
“I have noticed my students’ grades have improved as a whole, but I make an effort to focus on the individual, not just the class as a single entity,” Hughes said. “I believe that the more comfortable the student is with the subject and the instructor is directly related to the student’s success rate.”