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Emphasizing Core Calculus Concepts Using Biomedical Applications to Engage, Mentor, and Retain STEM Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Ethics Education, Global Health, and Outreach in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.521.1 - 25.521.14



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Paper Authors


John D. DesJardins Clemson University

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John DesJardins received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from Clemson University in Dec. 2006 and has worked for more than 15 years as a biomechanical research engineer. He has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications in the areas of biomechanics, biomaterials tribology and mechanical testing, and is the director of the Laboratory of Orthopaedic Design and Engineering at Clemson University. He currently leads or participates in many multi-disciplinary research teams on projects funded through NASA, DoD, DoT, NSF, biomedical industry, and other region non-profit foundations. As an Assistant Professor, he is the primary instructor for the senior capstone design courses, where he has lead small teams to develop innovative biomedical devices. He regularly interacts with local biomedical industry representatives that are interested in undergraduate education and outreach. He is the Founder and Current Director of the undergraduate bioengineering study abroad programs.

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Ellen Breazel Clemson University

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Marilyn Reba Clemson University

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Irina Viktorova Clemson University

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Jonathan Bradford Matheny Clemson University

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Taufiquar R. Khan

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Emphasizing Core Calculus Concepts Using Biomedical Applications to Engage, Mentor and Retain STEM StudentsWith an increasing demand for biomedical and bioengineering professionals in the comingdecades, educators are tasked with readying a greater number of STEM students who are able toapply mathematical concepts to critical health care decisions. In this work, we have developed aseries of for-credit, applied learning modules that are being given in parallel to the freshman andsophomore calculus curriculum. These modules use creative inquiry and applied learningexperiences to connect mathematical concepts with bioengineering and medical applications. Wehypothesize that exposure and participation in the applied learning experiences outside ofstandard mathematics classes, will improve the students’ performance and perceivedappreciation for their math curriculum.The four modules series will be offered over a 2 year period to groups of up to 25 students, andemphasize mathematics and statistics relevant to four biomedical research areas 1) orthopaedics,2) infectious diseases, 3) heat propagation in the human body, 3) mammography and radiology.In class activities are complimented with biomedical facility field trips, greater access toprofessors and tutors outside of class, and audio-video tutorials. In this paper, the methods andresults of module one (orthopaedics, which is currently underway with 3 students participating)will be presented. Assessment of project outcomes will consist of a formative and summativeevaluation. Pre and post surveys, follow-up surveys, and exit interviews are being used to assessthe student’s satisfaction with the modules, usefulness of the field-trips, and to gage studentunderstanding of uses of mathematics in STEM fields. In addition, student’s performance incurrent and future math courses and retention in STEM majors are being monitored fromparticipation in modules until graduation.This scalable project utilizes a diverse set of faculty from the math and bioengineeringdepartments. The project value to STEM goals are found in, 1) convincing students throughapplied learning experiences that mathematics is an important component of any research planand indispensable to their career success, and (2) insuring that these students do not falter incalculus and abandon their STEM goals. Outreach modules for K-12 are being developed as partof student participation. The project team will disseminate all teaching materials, assessmentresults, and improvements via a project website. This paper will present our developed methodsand initial findings with the hopes of inspiring other institutions to adopt similar applied learningexperiences for their STEM students.Figure 1: A flowchart of activities and outcomes that are linked to the applied learning modules for 2 year program.

DesJardins, J. D., & Breazel, E., & Reba, M., & Viktorova, I., & Matheny, J. B., & Khan, T. R. (2012, June), Emphasizing Core Calculus Concepts Using Biomedical Applications to Engage, Mentor, and Retain STEM Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21279

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