This site contains three different types of learning/teaching materials: an extensive laboratory manual of computer activities for calculus in pdf format; a page of animations on various calculus topics produced by Mathcad 6.0 but viewable in most browsers; and a pair of interactive modules in infinite series and integration techniques.
Type of Material:
As classroom demonstrations and as a resource for computer-based exercises, especially where either Mathcad or Maple is available.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Enhancing learning through demonstrations and classroom laboratory exercises.
Target Student Population:
First-year calculus students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Students will require sufficient knowledge of the calculus concepts so the demonstrations and computer-based exercises will be meaningful.
There are three different types of learning/teaching materials on this site.
1. A nearly 150-page manual in pdf format presents detailed laboratory exercises on many first-year calculus topics. This is a free download, but the manual is copyright-protected, and classroom use requires prior author approval. Interactive Mathcad and Maple files that correlate with the text are also available for download. The lab exercises include motivational introductions and step-by-step instructions. Most deal with illustrating fundamental calculus concepts such as the epsilon-delta definition of limit and the convergence of a sequence of partial sums. There are also applied exercises such as the classic of finding the longest pipe that can be maneuvered around a right-angle turn in a hallway corridor.
On the computer side, detailed instructions for how to work with MathCAD are provided, which is good for the novice.
This manual should be quite a useful resource for instructors seeking to enhance their students learning with computer-based activities.
2. Animations in avi format should enliven any classroom presentation of the topics covered, which range from limits to quadratic surfaces.
1. Inclusion of more problems that are not feasible or reasonable to solve by hand would strengthen the manual.
2. For several animations it was not clear how the demonstration would increase understanding. Some accompanying explanation would help in this regard.
3. The integration module is limited to 10 problems,
the infinite series tutorial to eight. This precludes repeated use of the site for practice purposes.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
References to definitions, theorems, and exercises in Calculus and Analytic Geometry, Ed. 5, by Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards occur throughout the manual. Since many people will not have this text and even fewer will have the 5th edition, the effectiveness of the manual is diminished. However, a large amount of the material in the manual can stand alone.
Similarly, while modifications should not be hard, the explicit connection to MathCAD diminishes effectiveness for widespread use.
The animations include only the barest amount of explanation.
Input of answers in the tutorials uses standard programming language notation. For programming novices this will present a stepping stone.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Except as noted below, no problems were encountered in using this site.
As mentioned in previous sections of this review, instructors/students who do not use Mathcad or Maple are at a disadvantage in using the manual. Another problem is that the versions of these programs referenced in the manual are a bit out of date. However, a reviewer found that all but three of the Mathcad files were immediately readable with the most current Mathcad program version. The three files that had compatibility problems can be repaired easily. The Maple program was not tested.
a reviewer found a way to beat the system in the test and tutorial and receive full credit for a problem without submitting an answer.
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