Computer Laboratories in Precalculus, Calculus, and Statistics

Bruce F. Torrence
Eve A. Torrence

Dept. of Mathematics
Randolph-Macon College
Ashland, VA 23005

Grant Number: DUE: 9650871

We have used our ILI grant to put in place a computer classroom that is used extensively in our modeling (precalculus) course, our calculus sequence, and and in our 100-level statistics course. We are using the computers not as the dominant mode of instruction, but rather as tools that enable the students to enhance their mathemtical capabilities. We assign a project and the students use the computers at their discretion to help them complete part of the project. The emphasis in each course is on real-world, non-contrived, non-trivial applications of mathematics.

The modeling course uses the Mathematica software package. We have created several Mathematica Packages especially for the course to extend and customize the software.

The calculus sequence is based on Project CALC using Mathematica, but the labs have been modified so that the students do more to lead the investigation, rather than answering a sequence of questions designed to guide them to a conclusion. We hope this will lead to more thinking and less clicking.

The statistics course uses the Data Desk software package. We use the package to aid in the analysis of data produced in and out of class by the students, and also for data imported from the text and from the web. In addition, we have created several simulation modules using Data Desk's programing features. These stand-alone applications are designed to illustrate various facets of sampling distributions.

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