Computer Enhanced Mathematics Instruction In Rural Tennessee

Dr. Judith H. Hector

Walters State Community College
500 S. Davy Crockett Parkway
Morristown, TN 37813-6899

Judy.Hector@WSCC.CC.TN.US

Grant Number: DUE: 9552262

Walters State Community College is a small state-supported college serving a largely rural Appalachian population. The total enrollment of the college in Fall 1996 reached an all time high of 6,028. The percentage of females is 64%; the percentage of students over 25 years of age is 46%; and the percentage of non-Caucasian students is 4%. The computer lab purchased in this $96,295 matching grant serves about 1,800 students per semester. These students are often the first in their families to attend college. Few have computers at home. The purpose of the lab is to ensure that all students experience using a computer to do mathematics.

Purchase and installation of the project has proceeded since the grant was announced in Summer 1995. Twenty-one Power Macintosh 6100 computers were installed by November 1995 with networking and access to Internet following in January 1996. With the reduction in computer prices and savings on software bids, it was possible to add another 3 Power Macintosh 7200 computers in Fall 1996 for a total of 24 student stations. Faculty also have access to a Macintosh Powerbook 5300ce laptop computer which connects to an nView Z series color LCD panel used with a powerful 3M 9800 overhead projector. Faculty use the laptop at home to create presentations for class or conferences. The laptop and LCD panel are portable for out-of-lab presentations.

Use of the lab has developed in stages as hardware and software have been purchased and installed. Any student may surf the Internet or use a personal e-mail account when the lab is not in use by a class. Students do research on the Internet and write reports using Microsoft Word software. Probability and Statistics classes use Minitab and TEMATH software to analyze and graph data. Finite Mathematics classes use freeware, Matrix Master, when they study matrix applications. The Differential Equations class uses MacMath. Next semester the Geometry class and the new Math for Elementary Teachers course will use Cabri Geometry software. The preservice teachers will also learn to use Powerpoint presentation software. Next semester the pre-engineering students studying FORTRAN will alternate between an IBM compatible lab and the Mac lab to enter FORTRAN programs and become familiar with Excel spreadsheets and MathCad software. Students in Elementary and Intermediate Algebra do homework with guided solutions on InteractMath software.

Faculty and staff development sessions on MathCad, Excel, and Powerpoint have included faculty from other colleges. A graduate class in Statistics attended by a number of WSCCís faculty and staff used the lab. It will be used for Internet training of middle and high school mathematics teachers in a one day workshop funded by the Eisenhower Regional Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education at the Appalachia Educational Laboratory this fall.

Purchasing will be complete when the new version of MathCad becomes available. Plans for further lab use include the adoption of Ostebee/Zorn reform calculus materials in the standard calculus sequence. This course will be scheduled in longer time blocks beginning Fall 1997 to include computer lab. Computer use will be incorporated in the short calculus course which began using the reform Clemson materials in Fall 1996. The computer lab in its start-up phase has already enabled faculty and students to become more familiar with computers as tools for doing mathematics with increased use planned for Spring and Fall 1997.


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