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Writing Techniques For Implementing Project Directed Mathematics

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovative Instructional Strategies

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1382.1 - 14.1382.45



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Paper Authors


John Schmeelk Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar Branch

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John Schmeelk, Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar Branch Campus

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, China, India, Qatar, 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

Writing Techniques for Implementing Project-Directed Mathematics


Understanding college-level mathematics poses problems for many students, especially when those students are studying the concepts in a non-native language. Recently, the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia (VCUR), designated MATH 131, “Contemporary Mathematics,” as a participating course in its new Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) initiative. This is a General Education course required of all students attending VCUR’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar (VCUQatar), which means that the students taking MATH 131 in Qatar also became participants in the WAC program.

This study, the fourth in a series examining ways to motivate learning of contemporary mathematics among design students at VCUQatar, examines methods for incorporating writing into MATH 131 at the Qatar campus and the effects of students’ writing upon their mastery of the concepts. Because one must think clearly in order to write clearly and because writing is a unique mode of learning, the authors hypothesize that requiring students to engage with the topics in MATH 131 through writing will improve both (1) the professor’s delivery of instruction by alerting him to problems with students’ language mastery as well as their mathematical thinking and (2) the students’ mastery of the MATH 131 concepts by requiring deeper and more diverse mental engagement with them.


The university and students. Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) is the flagship school of Education City, an innovative and expanding community of United States universities invited to operate branches in Doha, Qatar. Doha is the capital city of Qatar, a peninsula of 4,400 square miles (comparable to Connecticut in size) extending into the Persian Gulf and connected by a southwest border to Saudi Arabia. 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.

Students attending VCUQatar come not only from Qatar but from all over the world. Regardless of their nationality, all are required to demonstrate mastery of English because all courses are taught in English at the request of the country’s rulers, who intend for Qatar to become a major participant in world affairs and who recognize English as the lingua franca of global business.

VCUQatar undergraduates may major in Fashion Design, Graphic Design, or Interior Design. As part of their curriculum, all students must meet specified General Education requirements, and MATH 131, “Contemporary Mathematics,” is the required General Education math course.10 As the mathematics professor teaching this course since 2001, Dr. X from the start has been

Schmeelk, J., & Hodges, J. (2009, June), Writing Techniques For Implementing Project Directed Mathematics Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4557

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