CL1 - Stories: MathExcel: Calculus Among Friends



MathExcel: Calculus Among Friends
- by Mike Freeman

A General Description
The University of Kentucky Department of Mathematics teaches Calculus I, a large calculus class taught in the fall, in support of engineering, all the physical sciences, mathematics, secondary math education, and many biology majors and pre-meds. Calculus II is taught in the spring. Both classes are large lectures (300-500 students, with 15-25 sections). All Calculus students attend three one-hour lectures each week by a faculty member. The student audience in each lecture session consists of three sections: one MathExcel section and two regular sections. Then the "regular" students meet in their respective sections under the supervision of a graduate student teaching assistant for two recitation sessions each week. The course carries 4 units of credit.

MathExcel is a one-year program beginning in the fall of each academic year. The MathExcel students attend the same three Calculus I lectures each week, but they supplant the two recitations with what we call "Calculus Workshop," special MathExcel workshops that meet three times a week for two hours each.

The Workshops are organized around cooperative study, and their activities are more stimulating and somewhat more challenging than regular homework or test problems. Outside the Workshops, the MathExcel students do the same regular homework as the non-MathExcel students in the class.

Thus MathExcel requires three more hours of class per week. Calculus Workshop awards two units of Pass/Fail credit, which means that MathExcel students earn four units of normally graded credit received by every Calculus I/II student, plus two units of Pass/Fail credit.

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