Electronic Proceedings of the Seventh Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics

Orlando, Florida, November 17-20, 1994

Paper C006

The Use of Group Research Project and Cooperative Learning in Calculus

Mohammad H. Ahmadi

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
University of Wisconsin
Whitewater, WI 53190
Phone: (414) 472-5175
Fax: (414) 472-5238

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A Pilot Study of a Modified Distance Learning Technique for use in an Introductory Managerial Statistics Course

The Treasure Coast Graduate Center located in Stuart Fl. is an off campus site for the Florida Institute of Technology Business program and offers an MBA and an MS in Management Science. The students who attend are a diverse group, and most live and work within 50 miles of the site. Some students have rotating schedules or may be required to travel for their company. This could cause problems should the students miss several classes. Since the classes meet one night a week and the faculty are all adjuncts (part-time), missing class can have a detrimental effect on the learning process.

This fall term (6 Sept. - 16 Dec.), in BUS 5006 (Introductory Managerial Statistics), a pilot study will test a strategy using a modified distance learning process. The instructor is committed to offering students the best opportunity to learn and has designed a portion of the course that will be offered via telecommunications. The course will meet weekly for 15 weeks and during this time 8 supplemental session will be held - 4 evening and 4 daytime. These sessions will allow the student to communicate directly with the instructor.

Each supplemental session will cover a specific topic and the students will have an assigned project to work on. All assignments will be done using the spreadsheet EXCEL and the student will download his or her work to the instructor during the session. The student will also be able to ask questions concerning the material. At the end of the term students will be asked to evaluate the project.

All students who enter a graduate program at this site are computer literate, which encompasses a variety of skills. Past experience shows that all students routinely use computers at work. This project will be using EXCEL's advanced mathematical functions and either Procomm or Telix for telecommunication which the student will have access to at work or at the Treasure Coast site.

The problem sets will be written by the instructor and are more in depth than textbook problems. The complexity of the problems will increase during the course to approach that of a case study.

The pilot study will identify any potential problem areas and benefits to the modified distance learning environment. If the problems are surmountable and the benefits are demonstrable then the other faculty will be shown how to enhance the communication process using this means.

Keyword(s): calculus, student research, cooperative learning, sequences and series, spreadsheets