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Peer Review

Calculus of the Dinner Table: Mathematical Modeling

by James Rutledge


Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Dec 05, 2012 by Mathematics
Overview: This site contains a ready-to-use Calculus module consisting of a “write-pair-share activity” that initially involves the construction of a model based on direct variation and later involves the use of calculus as means by which to analyze the model.
Learning Goals: The major learning goal of this module are to enable students: (a) exercise their mathematical modeling skills; (b) develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between distance, speed and time; (c) apply calculus concepts to pseudo-real-life experiences
Target Student Population: Calculus I or Calculus II students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Calculus I
Type of Material: Assignment, drill and practice
Recommended Uses: Can be used in either a small class or a large lecture setting.
Technical Requirements: Works on any Web browser

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This module contains a project that is meant to be done by small student teams. The main idea of the project is to create a mathematical model based on direct variation, and then use Calculus tools and concepts to analyze the model. The model is based on a “pseudo-real life” situation. The activity is very lighthearted and whimsical involving “Old King Cole”. This has the potential of easing the stresses that a difficult problem can create. The main objective is to teach students to apply calculus concepts and grasp the relationship between amount, speed and elapsed time.
Concerns: The activity relies on an assumption of that is not explicitly stated. It would be clearer to explicitly state that the rate is 0 after the last bite.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The site clearly explains the intended use of the project, provides a suggested format and time frame, and even recommends the size of the class and a student group to work on the project. It is a ready to use learning module that any instructor can start using immediately just by following the instructions provided. The site also contains teaching notes and tips and recommends assessment. All this makes the module pedagogically sound.
Concerns: See the comment in the Quality of Content Concerns section.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Any instructor can start using this module immediately. It is well thought out and organized. There is also a link to a graphing tool (MVT) which is conveniently provided in the module.
Concerns: None.