Math instructor helps students overcome hurdles; students give insights on instructor’s teaching skills

Stephen Selph discusses with his Calculus I class the function of X.Photo by: Amanda Irvin

Stephen Selph discusses with his Calculus I class the function of X.
Photo by: Amanda Irvin

Math can be a difficult subject for many students, and good teacher can make all the difference to those who might be struggling. Lane math teacher Stephen Selph has received high praise from students for helping them succeed and move through their fears.

“He is by far the best math teacher I have ever had and math does not come easy to me,” third year engineering and management major Naomi Boe said. “He is so patient and organized. He gives time to all of his students.”

Selph teaches integral calculus and college algebra. Since spring term, he has also been offering college algebra classes online. “I find calculus hard, but he makes the concepts as clear as it possibly could be,” Boe said. “He never made me feel like any question is stupid.”

Boe previously attended Selph’s math 111, college algebra class and in fall term was enrolled in his calculus 2, integral calculus class.

Inside the classroom students work in groups, and to provide them with additional help Selph makes instructional math videos which he uploads to Moodle. He frequently checks his students’ understanding of the materials, has office hours every day and tutors at the Lane Math Resource Center.

“The instructor has a huge impact on how well you understand math,” third year University of Oregon geology major Spencer Jones said.

Jones chose to learn math at Lane because he wasn’t confident in the UO teacher’s ability to provide enough information for him to pass the class. Jones is currently studying integral calculus, a second term course at Lane.

“Stephen really wants to make his students succeed in math and LCC, comparatively, has a very good Math Resource Center,” Jones said.

Selph has a 4.9 ranking from a possible 5 on where 41 students ranked his teaching ability. “Steve made calculus accessible and interesting. He is a very gifted and kind teacher and I would recommend him to anyone taking calculus. Thank you Steve!” commented one respondent.

Selph, born in San Francisco, CA, graduated with degrees in math and physics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and received a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Before starting at Lane in 1998, he and his wife were Peace Corps volunteers and lived in Zimbabwe for two years, teaching math and english to high school students. “I really enjoy teaching mathematics,” Selph said. “I try to be very encouraging about students coming to me and working individually, especially those who fear math.”

“Stephen’s ability to transmit concepts to the students is very thoughtful and clear,” Math Resource Center tutor John Steele said. “It is very evident when I tutor his students, they know the concepts very well.”

In winter term, Selph will be teaching online college algebra and differential calculus, the first term calculus course.