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\def\title{{\Large\bf\begin{center}
An Alternative Technology-Based Mathematics Curriculum
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\def\names{\begin{center}
Bill Waller
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\def\address{\begin{center}
University of Houston--Downtown \\
Number One Main Street \\
Houston, TX 77002 \\
{\tt waller@dt.uh.edu}
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\def\grantNo{\begin{center}
Grant Number: DUE--9552147
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The purpose of the ILI grant our department received in Summer 1995 was
to support our vision of an alternative technology-based mathematics
curriculum that any technical major coul d pursue at least through the
sophomore year. The courses affected by this project include three
standard lower division sequences: College Algebra and Applied Calculus
for business majors; Precalculus, Calculus I, and Calculus II for
physical science majors; and Linear Algebra and Discrete Math for math
and computer science majors. These sequences form the three branches of
a technology track. Courses in each branch are vertically coordinated
to ensure continuity of instructional delivery, classroom activities,
testing, and technology and software. Students are free to move on or
off the track to more traditional sections at any time, although they
are advised to remain on track. Grant moneys were used to equip a new
classroom laboratory of PCs and upgrade a previously existing
classroom.
This project is an outgrowth and extension of two other NSF-funded
reform projects in which the department has recently participated. The
first of these, the so-called Interactive Math Text Project, was a n
ationwide effort whose goal was the development of potent examples of
mathematics courseware using widely-available computer algebra systems
such as {\it Maple} and {\it Mathematica}. The second project was a
local attempt to develop a revised syllabus for College Algebra based
on unifying themes, technology, and laboratory experiences. As a result
of these projects, the department had developed a good deal of original
course material and offered many reform-style or technology-based
sections, but on a scatter shot and pilot basis, as resources
permitted, rather than according to a coordinated scheme. Students
usually were forced to follow a lab-based, computer-intensive section
with a traditional lecture section, or vice versa. We felt that the
natural differences in presentation styles, modes of assessment, and
emphasis on numerical versus analytical techniques must be disruptive
for students, especially for under prepared students for whom even
superficial inconsistencies can be distracting . We believe it is
crucial that students be given the chance to reap the rewards of
instructional modes specifically designed to improve their mastery and
alter their perception of mathematics. Without a comprehensive
strategy, we felt it would be impossible to gauge the true long term
impact of technology and lab experiences on mathematical literacy and
retention, either here or in similar programs. In our presentation, we
hope to demonstrate the general equipage of our two laboratories, the
common design framework that is used to create or adopt courseware in
each branch of the technology track, the ways in which courses in each
branch are interfaced and coordinated, and the role the software plays
in each course. Plenty of sample courseware, both software and textual
material, will be displayed.
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