June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.302.1 - 14.302.11
Calculus at a Distance: Bringing Advanced Mathematics to High School Students through Distance Learning Abstract
The Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with four local school systems, is teaching sophomore level calculus via distance learning to students who have exhausted the math offerings in their high school. Students enrolled in the program are highly successful in the course compared to their on-campus college peers. They also matriculate in large numbers to Georgia Tech, making it a highly effective recruitment tool for attracting the most academically advanced students in the state. This paper addresses the many benefits to the students and university in such a program. Further, it highlights some of the potential problem areas for both K-12 public school systems and universities when trying to forge similar partnerships.
Key Words: Distance Learning, university calculus, student recruiting, student retention
1. Program Overview and Objectives
Introductory calculus has become a staple in most high schools, primarily through the College Board’s Advance Placement (AP) Calculus program. Long considered the final high school mathematics class for advanced seniors, there is a growing trend for K-12 school systems to accelerate their mathematics course sequence so that the top academic students take AP Calculus during their junior, rather than their senior, year. While the pedagogical wisdom of this tendency to accelerate mathematics rather than to explore the earlier concepts in more depth can be debated, the reality is that mathematics curriculum reform movements have often promoted a math sequence in which the standard 8th grade math course is Algebra 1. If “on-grade-level” students are taking algebra in the 8th grade, then “advanced” and “gifted” students typically start the course a year earlier, namely in 7th grade, and sometimes even earlier. By their senior year in high school, these students have exhausted the mathematics course offerings of the high school. Few school systems can reliably guarantee that they will have a teacher capable of teaching Advanced Calculus, and even if they do, colleges and universities have no way to judge the caliber of the course.
In the fall of 2004, a conversation between a staff member from Georgia Tech’s Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC--Georgia Tech’s K-12 outreach center), and a Fulton County School System curriculum coordinator revealed that the school system, with its 82,000 students, had a growing number of students taking AP Calculus during their junior or even sophomore year, and that the system was struggling to provide additional mathematics education in the senior year. While there were existing mechanisms for joint enrollment between the high schools and Georgia Tech, the transportation issues were too costly and time consuming to allow the students to physically attend Georgia Tech while still in high school, and the local junior colleges did not offer appropriate courses for this level of student. Providing instruction through the use of distance learning seemed to be a viable alternative.
Baker, N., & Usselman, M., & Morley, T., & Clark, R. (2009, June), Calculus At A Distance: Bringing Advanced Mathematics To High School Students Through Distance Learning Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5236
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