Orlando Meetings: Presentation Summary

Back to Orlando: Calculus Reform

This is the summary of a presentation given at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 10-13, 1996, Orlando, Florida.

A Comparison of Calculus Teaching Methodologies:
The Need for Evaluation in Calculus Reform

Although calculus reform has received a great deal of financial support, very few funded projects designed a plan to evaluate program outcomes as part of their work. Therefore, the research on student learning in calculus is very limited and, consequently, there is still relatively little information on the impact of the reform efforts. It has become increasingly clear that a much greater effort to evaluate these projects is indeed necessary, as the mathematical community now has little evidence to validate the expenditure of enormous amounts of time, energy, and financial resources.

The purpose of this talk will be two-fold. First, a study conducted at WPI that addresses some of the issues above will be presented and discussed. The study investigated the progress of students in reformed calculus courses as compared to traditionally-taught courses, as well as the progress of these two groups in subsequent courses. Data on student performance and retention will be reported, analyzed, and discussed. Second, and perhaps more important, will be the instigation of a discussion about designing scientifically valid evaluation studies. Included in this part of the presentation will be an introduction to several appropriate methodologies, as well as suggestions for initiating an evaluation plan.

Susan L. Ganter, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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