Mathematica and Writing-to-Learn in Linear Algebra and Differential Equations

P.G. LaRose
O.W. McClung
R.L. Vogt

Mathematics and Computer Science Department
Nebraska Wesleyan University
5000 St. Paul Ave., Lincoln, NE 68504-2796

Grant Number: DUE: 9551794

Following receipt of an NSF/ILI grant in 1995, Nebraska Wesleyan University has revised the course structure and content of both Linear Algebra and Differential Equations to use a computer algebra system (Mathematica) and writing-to-learn - thereby enhancing student learning and exposure to problem solving and computer skills that are essential in both mathematics and the real-world. This poster describes the NSF/ILI funded lab and changes made to these courses at NWU.

Both courses were changed from three "lectures" to two "lectures" and a two hour computer lab per week. As both are strong service courses, this preservation of the same number of credit hours was an important consideration. The lab, funded by the NSF/ILI grant received by NWU, consists of 17 210MHz networked PowerMac clones with a dedicated file server and overhead projection system.

In the laboratory component of the classes, students primarily work on formal labs developed through the NSF/ILI grant which take advantage of the experimentation and visualization permitted by the use of computer technology. Writing-to-learn is incorporated as reports on the lab work are written by students in Mathematica notebooks. Additional writing-to-learn is introduced through applications-oriented projects used in differential equations.

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