Math 245: Multivariate Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Equations with Computer I is the first half of a year-long sophomore sequence that emphasizes the subjects' interconnections and grounding in real-world applications. The sequence is aimed primarily at students from physical and mathematical sciences and engineering. In Fall, 1998, as a result of my affiliation with the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Teacher Education Collaborative (STEMTEC), I continued and extended previously-introduced reforms in Math 245, including: motivating mathematical ideas with real-world phenomena; student use of computer technology; and, learning by discovery and experimentation. I also introduced additional pedagogical strategies for more actively involving the students in their own learning—a collaborative exam component and in-class problem-solving exercises. The in-class exercises were well received and usually productive; two were especially effective at revealing normally unarticulated thinking. The collaborative exam component was of questionable benefit and was subsequently abandoned. Overall student performance, as measured by traditional means, was disappointing. Among the plausible reasons for this result is that too much material was covered in too short a time. Experience here suggests that active-learning strategies can be useful, but are unlikely to succeed unless one sets realistic limits to content coverage.
© Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
"Active Learning in Sophomore Mathematics: A Cautionary Tale,"
Journal of Mathematics and Science: Collaborative Explorations: Vol. 4:
1, Article 13.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jmsce_vamsc/vol4/iss1/13