Calculus Reform

Summary of reform: Reform Calculus involves multi-level efforts including: faculty development, assessment, encouragement of risk taking, cooperative homework groups, development of community in class, standards which emphasize problem solving, geometric visualization, and quantitative reasoning. In addition, Reform Calculus involves understanding numerically, graphically, algebraically and through means such as writing, visualization, and use of graphic calculators. Evaluation of the various components is necessary to assess outcomes. Class size is typically limited to 24 students.

In regard to the specific curriculum, there is an emphasis on story problems in order to relate calculus to the real world (problem centered curriculum). Pedagogical changes ask faculty to become more of a facilitator of group projects and active learning. Faculty listen to students as they try to develop understanding, identify gaps in knowledge, and ways to clarify what they have just learned. Teaching becomes a human experience of relating to students not just communicating a body of knowledge. Small class size is necessary for the development of trust needed for students to engage in discussion and take risks in learning. Small class size also allows for detailed feedback on homework. New uses of interactive mathematics texts through a grant through IBM.

Level of institutionalization: Involves high degree of institutionalization since it necessitates limiting class size, faculty development, and training of teaching assistants

Outcomes: Critical thinking, problem solving, writing, cooperative skills, geometric visualization, and quantitative reasoning.

Process: Reform Calculus involves modified curriculum, textbook and pedagogy as well as smaller class size

Description of assessment: NSF sponsored initiatives require assessment. Reports can be obtained from NSF.

Resistances: Many of the resistances to Reform Calculus are similar to the resistance to science reforms. Student culture is seen as a barrier as students often feel they are not being taught and are resentful and skeptical as a result. Faculty and students are both frustrated at times because these classes move more slowly than traditional classes. Specifically, there is a perception that students are not learning as much content as they should


Link to suggested readings: Articles on Calculus Reform 

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