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Board 66: Technology Enhanced Pre-Calculus Classrooms (Work in Progress)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Computers in Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Melissa Danforth California State University, Bakersfield

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Melissa Danforth is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSUB. Dr. Danforth was the PI for a NSF Federal Cyber Service grant (NSF-DUE1241636) to create models for information assurance education and outreach. Dr. Danforth was the Project Director for a U.S. Department of Education grant (P031S100081) to create engineering pathways for students in the CSUB service area. She is the co-PI for an NSF IUSE grant for STEM retention (NSF-DUE 1430398) and the co-PD for multiple U.S. Department of Education grants related to engineering education and outreach. Her research interests are focused on network and system security, particularly with respects to protecting mission-critical resources and services. She is also conducting research in applying biological concepts to cybersecurity, such as artificial immune systems.

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Charles Lam California State University, Bakersfield

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Dr. Charles C.Y. Lam is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Dr. Lam received his Ph.D. in Combinatorics and Optimization from the University of Waterloo. His research areas are in cryptography, digital watermarking, and combinatorics. He has served as project director in various STEM education grant programs sponsored by Department of Education and National Science Foundation. He has extensive experience in curriculum assessment, undergraduate curriculum development, and student mentoring.

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Ronald Hughes California State University, Bakersfield

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(2017-Present) Associate Professor for the STEM Affinity Group, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, California State University, Bakersfield. Duties included teaching responsibilities in Undergraduate Biology. Additional duties included grant writing, management, and evaluation.

Include teaching and learning cognition skills, informal learning environments and strategies, and science/technology curriculum design/implementation/evaluation.

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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. 10.18260/1-2--30082

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