Using problem sets in calculus

  • Morrel J
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Abstract

Over the past two decades, calculus reformers have called for the use of alternative pedagogical techniques to promote student learning. Some mathematics instructors have responded by developing a set of student projects intended to hone thinking skills and improve the mathematical writing skills of calculus students. Drawbacks to this strategy may include the class time required to use these projects effectively, both on the part of the students and the instructor, as well as tightly packed syllabi, especially in those “engineering” calculus classes. Another reform approach promotes the use of laboratory experiences in calculus. However, there may be logistical and technological problems here. Not all of us have computer facilities with easy access for all students or a supply of mediated classrooms for use in all sections of calculus. I have found that the use of calculus problem sets is an effective way to give students some of the benefits of working on non-routine problems without devoting quite so much class time or requiring expensive technology. This strategy allows me to require high level thinking skills from my students, forces them to practice writing mathematics carefully and coherently, and encourages beneficial collaboration among students. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Calculus
  • Calculus reform
  • Pedagogy
  • Problem sets

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Authors

  • Judith H. Morrel

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