A Computing Classroom-Laboratory for Undergraduate Instruction

David Gilliam and
Lawrence Schovanec

Department of Mathematics
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79404


Grant Number: DUE: 9352676

The computer laboratory provides a classroom environment that is primarily utilized for teaching the courses, "Computational Techniques for Mathematics and Science" (CTMS) and "Basic Computer Literacy and Programing" (BCLP). Enrollment in CTMS consists of post-calculus students who are mathematics and engineering majors and students seeking secondary mathematics teacher certification. The course BCLP serves as a comparative technology course for prospective K-12 teachers.

In the course CTMS students explore a range of problems from calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations by using the computer algebra system, Maple. The course is built around the utilization of Maple sessions that are are accessed at the web site, http://www.math.ttu.edu/~schov/math3430.html. Students download lesson modules that contain a mixture of discussion, examples, and Maple commands which they execute as they work through the session. This material is complemented by a combination of lecture and computer demonstrations by the instructor.This process is meant to reinforce topics with which the student is already familiar while also expanding upon concepts that they may have encountered in previous classes. Projects deal with aspects of numerical and symbolic integration, differentiation, approximation of functions that emphasize Taylor and Fourier series, linear algebra and differential equations. For the most part students utilize the built-in features of Maple, but some time is spent writing simple programs that are meant to introduce them to programming structures. The use of Maple as an instructional tool and the implications of Maple upon pedagogical issues are also addressed.

The comparative technology course BCLP is required of students who certify at Texas Tech to teach K-12 and wish to be declared as "mathematics specialists". This course is taught in the computer classroom laboratory using a locally written text and employs a cooperative learning environment in which students use multiple "technologies" that include LOGO, the TI-85 calculator and Maple.

The laboratory facilities consist of 25 monochrome X terminals connected to a Sun Sparc 10/52 server. A color X terminal and a Power Macintosh both connected to LCD display and overhead projector are available for purpose of instructor demonstration. In addition to Maple, other applications that impact upon student training that are available in the laboratory include Mathematica, MATLAB, Logo, C, Fortran, Pascal.

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