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Project Directed Mathematics

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Project and Model-Based Mathematics

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1199.1 - 12.1199.22



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Paper Authors


John Schmeelk Virginia Commonwealth University

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Dr. John Schmeelk is a Professor of mathematics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where he is engaged in applied mathematical research in distribution theory. He is currently teaching mathematics at VCUQatar campus in Doha, Qatar. He received his PhD from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has been an invited speaker to conferences in Australia, China, Brazil, Bulgaria, India and many other countries.

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Jean Hodges Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



The authors examine the learning preferences work of Ricki Linksman, founder of the National Reading Diagnostic Institute in the United States and author of How to Learn Anything Quickly. In an earlier study, they theorized that female MATH 131 students at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar (VCUQ) were probably visual and tactile right-brained learners based on their artistic interests in three design majors and the characteristics of these types of learning preferences. In this study, they test the learning and hemispheric preferences of MATH 131 students and, because visual and tactile learners learn best by seeing and touching, hypothesize that centering mathematics instruction on projects completed either individually or collaboratively (project-directed mathematics) will facilitate students’ learning better than will traditional lectures and problem-solving assignments.

The projects are focused on the design and implementation of both individual and group activities that engage students in high-level thinking and mathematical problem solving. As a team the professor and students discuss deeper mathematical properties illustrated within the students’ projects. As design majors, the students are very motivated to create unique projects that draw upon their artistic talent and creativity. Combined with a “mathematical spin” required by the professor, these projects offer a pilot for mathematical understanding. Preliminary results indicated that the project-directed approach is more successful than the traditional lecture and problem-solving techniques because students are eager both to collaborate with their peers and professor and to compete against each other in developing the most creative projects.


During the academic years 2003-2006, Dr. Schmeelk instructed several sections of a contemporary mathematics course in Doha, Qatar, a small peninsula of 4,400 square miles extending into the Persian Gulf and attached to Saudi Arabia. The size is comparable to the state of Connecticut in the United States. The population is approximately 770,000, and its leader is His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar. In 1997 Virginia Commonwealth University, located in Richmond, Virginia, USA, (VCUR) and Qatar’s Emir collaborated to form the Shaqab College of Design Art located in Doha, Qatar, and primarily supervised by Qatar Foundation, an organization chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned. In 2002 the school was officially renamed Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar and began to operate more fully under the direction of VCUR.

Within the curriculum for design students in both VCUR and VCUQ, one general education requirement for all students is a contemporary mathematics course (MATH 131). Tailoring this course to fit the unique needs and interests of VCUQ majors became a unique and exciting challenge that gave rise to the authors’ 2006 study entitled, “Making Connections Among Culture, Personality, and Content in Analytical Courses,” which was presented at the March 2006 Conference of Middle Eastern Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Computing.

Schmeelk, J., & Hodges, J. (2007, June), Project Directed Mathematics Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1618

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