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.

Students' retention in the light of calculus reform

In this paper I give the details of the University of Alaska Southeast Math Department experience in planning and implementing calculus reform. I also discuss the problems we came across trying to balance our academic needs with concerns about our student enrollment.

With a great enthusiasm we initiated the calculus reform a year ago. We adopted the Purdue approach, and taught calculus courses in computer equipped classrooms with instruction based on experiential learning and work in cooperative groups. The percentage of students successfully completing the calculus courses was better then ever; however, the reforms had a negative impact both on the number of students who continued with math sequence and on the number of new students enrolling in calculus.

After careful consideration we have decided that a gradual approach to calculus reform is more suitable for our institution. We are cooperating closely with math faculty on our satellite campuses and are sharing our vision with our science faculty and administrators. We have adopted more traditional texts and are moving forward with innovations such as writing projects, cooperative learning in groups, and a use of computer algebra system (MapleV) in problem solving.

Vesna Kilibarda, University of Alaska, Juneau

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