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The Transformation Of A Mathematics Course:Discoveries Along A Five Year Journey

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Innovative Instructional Strategies and Curricula

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1257.1 - 15.1257.33



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Paper Authors


John Schmeelk Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar Branch

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Dr. John Schmeelk is a Professor of Mathematics at Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha Qatar Branch, where he is engaged in applied mathematics, generalized functions, image processing and educational pedagogy. He received his PhD from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was awarded many summer faculty grants to go to Fort Rucker, Alabama implementing procedures utilizing generalized functions. He has been an invited speaker to conferences in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Hungary, India, Qatar, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and many other countries.

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Jean Hodges Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar Branch

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

The Transformation of a Mathematics Course: Discoveries Along a Five-Year Journey


This paper concludes a five-year multicultural study that gradually transformed a mathematics course that was “Western” in both content and presentation methods into a “Middle Eastern” course offered in an American university overseas to non-native speakers of English. In addition to tracing the development of user-friendly content presentation, it tracks the development of a technique the authors call “project-directed mathematics” and its incorporation with writing as a learning strategy. Data gathered from mostly female students taking courses in Contemporary Mathematics over the five years support the authors’ claims, which include new observations and recommendations that may be adapted to transform other “Western” courses into culturally- appropriate studies.


Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCUR) is a state research university located in the heart of metropolitan Richmond, Virginia’s capital since 1779. Over 32,000 students enroll on its two Richmond campuses. VCUR’s mission is to educate “full- time and part-time students of all ages and backgrounds in an atmosphere of free inquiry and scholarship so they may realize their full potential as informed, productive citizens with a lifelong commitment to learning and service.”1

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar. In addition to the Richmond campuses, VCUR also has campuses in Northern Virginia; in Charles City County, Virginia; and in Doha, Qatar. Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) is the flagship school of Education City, an innovative, expanding community of US universities invited to operate branches in Doha, the capital city of the Middle Eastern State of Qatar. Education City is the brainchild of Qatar’s Emir and his Consort, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, who chairs Qatar Foundation, the organization that manages Education City, among other projects. Initially supervised solely by Qatar Foundation, VCUQatar began in 1998 as Shaqab College of Design Art, but in 2002 the school became an official branch campus of VCUR, began to operate more fully under its direction, and was officially renamed Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.

VCUQatar’s approximately 200 students come not only from Qatar but from all over the world. Regardless of their nationality, all must study in English because the country’s rulers recognize English as the lingua franca of global business.

VCUQatar undergraduates may major in Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Interior Design, or Painting and Printmaking. The curriculum imposes specified Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) requirements, and MATH 131, “Introduction to Contemporary Mathematics,” is the required LAS math course. As the mathematics professor teaching this course since 2001, Dr. John Schmeelk from the start has been concerned with tailoring it to fit the unique needs of

Schmeelk, J., & Hodges, J. (2010, June), The Transformation Of A Mathematics Course:Discoveries Along A Five Year Journey Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15970

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