This past fall, Calculus I students at Missouri S&T spent less time listening to lectures and watching their TAs work at the board and did some hands-on problem-solving of their own instead. Smaller labs allowed for more student interaction.
The changes were part of a calculus redesign Paul Runnion, Math’05, MS Math’07, developed to improve student interaction and to identify and help students who are struggling with the course.
To help reinforce in-class learning, Runnion and his colleagues are creating an online library of short video tutorials, which may lead to online course offerings in calculus.
Runnion, an assistant teaching professor of mathematics and statistics, says early intervention is key. Faculty seek out struggling students and allow them to take a refresher course to prepare them to retake Calculus I the next semester.
“The main goal is to break the cycle of student failure due to lack of foundational algebra and trigonometry skills,” says Runnion. “Students who are doing poorly tend to stay in the class and simply fail it. With the planned interventions, they can maintain full-time student status while preparing to retake the course at a later date.”