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Utilizing an Emporium Course Design to Improve Calculus Readiness of Engineering Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 4

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1692.1 - 26.1692.11



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Paper Authors


Virgil U. Pierce University of Texas, Pan American

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Dr. Virgil Pierce is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Texas -- Pan American. His research is in mathematical and statistical physics, and involves the intersection of techniques from nonlinear waves, combinatorics, and random matrices. He works extensively on educational issues in high school and higher education, including the development of a College Prep Math course being used in public high schools in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Starr Counties in Texas, and he has worked with a variety of issues surrounding entry level mathematics and science at two-year and four-year schools in Texas.

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Javier Angel Kypuros University of Texas, Pan American

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Javier Kypuros received a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University in 1996. He later received an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1998 and 2001 from The University of Texas at Austin. Javier began his career at The University of Texas at El Paso in 2001 and later joined the faculty at The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in 2002. He is currently a Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. He was awarded Faculty Excellence Awards by the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UTPA for teaching in 2011 and service in 2012 and was recognized by the University of Texas System with a Regentss Outstanding Teaching Award in 2014. His research interests include Dynamic Systems and Controls, Bond Graphs, and Vehicle Systems.

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Utilizing an Emporium Course Design to Improve Calculus Readiness of Engineering Students ABSTRACT The intervention has targeted incoming students in Engineering and Computer Sciencedegrees. Participating students were selected who had a record of participation in Pre-Calculus classes in high school, but who had not demonstrated their readiness to take Calcu-lus, as measured by placement tests and existing credit. The course design uses an emporiummethod, specifically the Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) software,in a computer lab to deliver to students an intensive program of mathematical practice andexploration. The course design is meant to take advantage of students? existing knowledge,rewarding them for it in fact, and focus them on specific Algebra and Trigonometry topicsin which they need more practice and one-on-one instruction [1, 2]. The purpose of this activity is to accelerate the Calculus preparedness for a subset ofstudents held back due to standardized test scores and perhaps limited mastery of the prereq-uisite content. The benefits are improved engineering readiness, reduced time-to-graduation,and improved performance in gatekeeper courses. To maintain student interest, and connect the problems and topics they are working indetail on, we included in the course cooperative activities with engineering problems asso-ciated with railway safety and transportation; making use of tours of existing laboratoriesand experimental apparatuses. This combination of a problem focused course, tailored toindividual student?s needs and experiences, emphasizing mastery, and then motivated bydirect connections to current engineering problems and research is providing for an impor-tant improvement in the engineering degree experience for a subset of students who wouldtraditionally be at a disadvantage in their program.References[1] Twigg, C. A. (2011, May-June). The Math Emporium: Higher Education’s Silver Bullet. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning.[2] Fine, A., Duggan, M., & Braddy, L. (2009). Removing remediation requirements: Effec- tiveness of intervention programs. PRIMUS, 19(5), 433?446.

Pierce, V. U., & Kypuros, J. A. (2015, June), Utilizing an Emporium Course Design to Improve Calculus Readiness of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25028

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