MATHEMATICAL MODELING, INTERDISCIPLINARY PROJECTS, AND TECHNOLOGY: CHANGING THE WAY WE TEACH “TRADITIONAL” MATHEMATICS COURSES
North Carolina A&T State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper discusses and analyzes the effect of introducing three important approaches: mathematical modeling, interdisciplinary projects, and the use of technology in teaching traditional mathematics courses at three different levels: introductory (college algebra & trigonometry), intermediate/sophomore level (differential equations), and upper level/senior (applied mathematics). The pros and cons of this teaching approach are analyzed from both the students’ and faculty’s perspective.
In the last five years a number of traditional courses in mathematics have been redesigned in order to motivate and enhance student learning. Several trends are noticeable:
1. Instructors are embracing technology to better illustrate the concepts, present more realistic application problems and attract students who view technology as a more “hands on” approach – easier to understand and follow.
2. Interdisciplinary projects have become one of the most important features in the course. Instructors use them to illustrate to students the relevance of mathematics they are studying. Students find them more interesting than mathematical theory and administrators point out that the collaboration between the faculty from various disciplines could potentially lead to outside funding.
3. Mathematical Modeling has gained the status of a standard undergraduate course at a number of schools. By being able to use software packages certain models are possible to construct and analyze without understanding the mathematics or the numerical methods behind it. For that reason, examples of mathematical modeling are being also implemented in traditional courses – not just modeling courses.
This paper analyzes the implementation of these three approaches based on the student and faculty evaluations. The results show how students’ learning has changed over the years as a result of different way these traditional courses are taught now. It also discusses the new trends in faculty development education and its effects on the discipline.
Keywords: interdisciplinary projects, mathematical modeling, technology.