BYU calculus program sets an example


The Mathematical Association of America has recognized BYU’s calculus program as one of the top 16 in the nation.

In fall of 2010 over 200 colleges and universities participated in a survey supported by the National Science Foundation that focused on the instruction of Calculus I courses. According to a letter the MAA sent to BYU’s department chair of mathematics,the first phase of the research focused on the factors that produced interest in Calculus I, intentions to move to Calculus II courses, and the student’s overall interest and confidence in math. After the first phase, 16 universities had demonstrated excellent Calculus instruction results and therefore are now a part of the second phase of the study.

Chris Rasmussen from San Diego University will be leading a team of three to visit BYU’s campus this fall semester to have interviews with students, faculty and administrators in the math department focusing on the Calculus I classes. The specifics of the visit are not clear as the former President of MAA, David M. Bressoud is still coordinating with BYU for the dates of the three day visit.

Mathematics professor and Calculus coordinator, Jessica Purcell said, “It’s nice to have all this hard work recognized by a well respected national mathematics organization.”

The Mathematical Association of America’s purpose is to identify characteristics of successful calculus programs in the United States.

Dr. Purcell said, “Calculus is at the foundation of a lot of other disciplines, including science, engineering and social sciences. ”

The MAA will visit the 16 colleges during this fall to learn of each college’s unique method for successful Calculus I programs.

Dr. Purcell said, “If some of the things we do well at BYU can be used to improve calculus for students elsewhere, then that’s a huge accomplishment.”

Jordan Tretbar, a freshman undecided major from Orange County, Calif., said of his Calculus I class, “everyone does the best they can all the time.”

Hunter Bailey, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Wintersville, Ohio, said of Calculus, “it will help you get farther.”

In response to MAA’s study Dr. Purcell said, “I hope that the study leads to more students around the country learning and loving calculus.”

To keep updated with the Calculus program study visit the math department page, , or BYU math on Facebook.



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