Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Computers in Education
As part of the grant activities for the U.S. Department of Education Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program grant at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), two technology enhancements in pre-calculus courses were explored. The service region for CSUB is an ethnically diverse, but socioeconomically challenged, area marked by low educational attainment. Only one-third of high school graduates in the region completed all of the college preparatory requirements for the state university system, compared to nearly half of graduates statewide. Poor mathematics preparation leads to issues with success and retention of STEM majors, particularly engineering majors. The technology interventions are aimed at the pre-calculus level to provide more support for the students who enter CSUB with weaker mathematics backgrounds. The success and retention in the pre-calculus sequence directly affects the success and retention in the mathematically intensive STEM majors. The two technology enhancements use Surface Pro 3 and 4 tablet PCs in the classroom to augment traditional teaching methodologies. The first enhancement used the tablet PCs as digital paper, where students are given PDF files with problems and they have to use the digital pen to write the answers into the PDF files. The second enhancement more extensively incorporated technology into the classroom using Desmos, Excel, Maple, and the online free version of Wolfram Alpha on the tablet PCs. The PDF enhancement method was tested in Pre-Calculus I by two different instructors. There were 70 students in the test group and 343 students in the control group. While underrepresented minority students and female students has slightly better pass rates in the test group, it was not significantly different than the pass rates of the control group. The second method with more extensive incorporation of technology in the classroom was tested in Pre-Calculus I and Pre-Calculus II by one instructor. For Pre-Calculus I, there were 32 students in the test group and 343 students in the control group. All student groups had a higher pass rate in the test group except for female students. For Pre-Calculus II, 19 students were in the test group and 106 students were in the control group. All student groups in the test group had a higher pass rate. Underrepresented minority students had a pass rate that was 14% higher than the control group and female students had a pass rate that was 38% higher. The preliminary results are very promising for the second method, but the sample sizes are small and both test courses were taught by the same instructor, so there are confounding factors. CSUB is extending the test to additional instructors and classes in the 2017/18 academic year to see if the trend holds over a larger sample size.
Danforth, M., & Lam, C., & Hughes, R. (2018, June), Board 66: Technology Enhanced Pre-Calculus Classrooms (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30082
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