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The Wisconsin Emerging Scholars Program

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The Wisconsin Emerging Scholars (WES) program for calculus students was designed to boost the performance and persistence of freshman in the UW-Madison's 3-course calculus sequence--a "gateway" course required of students planning to major in science, math, or engineering. The WES program places students into special discussion sections where difficult worksheets and student-driven group work allow students to discover the principles and techniques of problem-solving through close collaboration with their peers.

In the pilot year of the WES program (1993-94), half of the students enrolled in this program were women, 40% were from underrepresented ethnic minorities, and 30% were from small rural schools. This pilot group completed the first two semesters of calculus with grade point averages that were half a grade point higher than those of students in regular discussion sections, even when measures of precollege mathematical ability were statistically controlled. Compared with students in traditional discussion sections, the WES students also showed higher levels of confidence in their mathematical ability, greater comfort in performing calculus problems, and learned to value multiple and creative ways of problem solving, many of which they had learned from their peers.

*  MAA Online: A calculus reform effort that works:
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