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Interactive Math Learning for 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

Techniques in Improving Mathematics Education in STEM Curricula

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.825.1 - 25.825.20

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Paper Authors


Yonghui Wang Prairie View A&M University

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Yonghui Wang received the B.S. degree in technical physics from Xidian University, Xi’an, China, in 1993, the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Beijing Polytechnic University, Beijing, China, in 1999, and the Ph.D. degree in computer engineering from Mississippi State University, Starkville, M.S., in 2003. From 1993 to 1996, he was an Engineer with the 41st Electrical Research Institute, Bengbu, China. From July 1999 to December 1999, he worked as an IT Specialist in IBM China, Beijing, China. From 2000 to 2003, he was a Research Assistant with the Visualization, Analysis, and Imaging Laboratory (VAIL), the GeoResources Institute (GRI), Mississippi State University. He is currently an Associate Professor with the Department of Engineering Technology, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas. His research interests include image and signal processing, data coding, and scientific visualization.

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Jian-ao Lian Prairie View A&M University

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Jian-ao Lian received both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from Xian Jiaotong University, Xian, China, in 1984 and 1987, respectively, and received his Ph.D. degree in mathematics from Texas A&M University, College Station, in 1993. He is currently a professor of mathematics at Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas, one of the nine campuses of the Texas A&M University System in Texas. He is among the first to develop the orthonormal scaling functions and wavelets with symmetry by using the dilation factor three, as well as orthonormal scaling function vectors and multiwavelets. Lian is also a member of AMS and IEEE. His research interests include wavelets and applications, computer-aided geometric design, signal and image processing, and STEM education.

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Yonggao Yang Prairie View A&M University

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Yonggao Yang is a tenured Associate Professor and the Interim Department Head in the Department of Computer Science at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) in Texas. He joined CS Department at PVAMU as an Assistant Professor in Aug. 2002 immediately upon receiving a Ph.D. degree in Information Technology & Computer Science from George Mason University (Fairfax, Va.). He worked as a faculty member at Southwest Jiaotong Unviersity (Chengdu, China) during 1987 through 1998. Yang's research interests include computer graphics, scientific visualization, distributed virtual reality learning/training environment, and computer networks. Yang can be reached through email at

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Interactive Math Learning for STEM StudentsAbstract:The rapid development of computer technology impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives.We have witnessed the microprocessor changing from 8-bit to 64-bit and the display frommonochrome monitors to millions of colors LED screens. We have also enjoyed the benefits onimproved pedagogy in teaching STEM courses by integrating both the computer technology andup-to-date research results into the classrooms. However, the teaching of college level STEMrequired math courses does not catch up this pace and this makes it a remaining challenge tobetter prepare STEM students’ math training. The fact is that today’s college students are grownup in a computerized multimedia world and they are enthusiasts of internet, video games,iPhones and iPods, MySpace, face-book, etc., even before they enter colleges. This makes themath learning even less attractive which further affects the enrollment and retention rate of everySTEM program.To address this issue, a group of faculty members with multidisciplinary background investigateto teach the traditional math courses unconventionally. In addition to the traditional blackboard-textbook teaching and exercising, we integrate new teaching approaches that allow students tolearn math concepts by interactively working with specially designed math teaching and learningmodules. Our attention is focused on building learning modules for entry level college mathcourses, such as College Algebra and Calculus I, because these courses are the basis for allSTEM programs. For each course, certain amount of time will be set aside for students topractice the concepts they just learned during the normal lecture time. The learning modules aredesigned user friendly in order to attract students’ attention to math learning instead of texting inclassrooms. The benefits of this pedagogy include: 1) interactive modules make students activelyinvolved in the math learning process; 2) the unlimited randomly generated questions andexamples give students more opportunities on practicing and reinforcing the concepts they justlearned; 3) the quick answer checking function helps students build confidence by immediatelyidentifying their learning progress; and 4) the mobility of the modules ensures that students canlearn and practice their math concepts any time anywhere with their laptop PC. We chooseVizard—a popular virtual reality programming environment—to design the course teachingmodules to make the math learning full of fun.In this project, faculty members developed new interactive teaching and learning modules andintroduced them into the corresponding college math classes. Preliminary results on STEMstudents’ opinion on math were obtained and obstacles were discussed. Based on our success, wewill further improve our current teaching and learning modules and develop more modules toenhance STEM students’ math learning.

Wang, Y., & Lian, J., & Yang, Y. (2012, June), Interactive Math Learning for STEM Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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