San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.334.1 - 25.334.10
Comparison of Paths to Calculus SuccessSuccessful completion of a calculus sequence is essential to the education of any aspiringengineer. Many students have difficulty completing this task, therefore first yearprograms traditionally have implemented academic support programs to assist studentswith math. A large land grant university in the mid-Atlantic region implemented a 2-semester Calculus 1 sequence to facilitate success for those students who arrive at theinstitution only marginally prepared to enter a standard semester-long Calculus 1 course.The 2-semester Calculus 1 course teaches the standard Calculus 1 content, but provides“just-in-time” review of related algebraic and trigonometric concepts as they are neededthroughout the course. Calculus concepts are spaced further apart to make room for thepre-calculus concept review to be interspersed throughout the course, as appropriate.Teaching standard calculus in this slower format raised several questions and concernsamong faculty in both the mathematics department and the engineering college regardingthe impact of the slower paced calculus course: (1) Does the slower paced calculus prepare students to face the rigors of a faster paced Calculus 2 course successfully? (2) Does the slower paced calculus course give a student false hope or a false sense of security in completing the calculus sequence, since the other courses in the calculus sequence are taught at a much faster pace? There is concern that some students who may be able to pass the slower paced calculus course, but who may not be able to pass the faster paced math courses will delay transferring out of engineering until, nearly, their junior year, thereby making it difficult to complete a different major within a typical 4 or 5 year college experience. (3) Does the slower paced calculus course provide a more solid foundation to better prepare students to excel in calculus 2 and future calculus-related courses? (4) Are students who start in the 2-semester Calculus 1 course retained at a higher rate than their counterparts who start in the traditional one-semester Calculus 1 course? How do their graduation rates compare? The concern centers around course sequence and “flow” toward graduation. The additional semester of math required in the freshman year may impact the course selections available to the student in the second and third semesters due to pre- and co-requisite requirements, which may affect overall success and retention.To explore these questions, four years of course data have been collected and analyzed.Academic performance in subsequent courses (Calculus 2, multivariable calculus, andelementary differential equations) was compared for students from the traditional one-semester course and students from the two-semester Calculus 1 course. This paperpresents these results and the implications for future curriculum development and courseofferings at that institution and at other institutions who may consider this approach tohelping students succeed in mathematics. Options and alternatives for summerpreparation programs and student support systems, based on this research, are alsopresented and discussed.
Hensel, R. A., & Hamrick, T. R. (2012, June), Comparison of Paths to Calculus Success Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21092
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