In the mid-1980s, the mathematics community initiated a movement to change the standard undergraduate course in calculus. This change focused on the need for raising students’ conceptual understanding, while implementing new methods to reduce tedious calculations. Efforts were encouraged through funding initiatives by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and others. The movement helped to develop a vision for calculus that is challenging and stimulating, with the primary goal being to improve the quality of calculus courses and the level of learning by students in these courses at all types of institutions. However, there are a limited number of studies that document the impact of such efforts in calculus.
Funding from NSF is supporting the distribution to every college mathematics department of Changing Calculus: A report on evaluation efforts and national impact from 1988 to 1998, written by Susan Ganter (Clemson University) and published by MAA in 2001. This publication discusses the results from a study conducted as a part of a larger effort by NSF to evaluate the impact of reform in SMET education at the undergraduate level.
The report includes information from more than 300 studies and writings about calculus reform during this ten-year period. Information for the report was collected to investigate what was learned about the effect of calculus reform on (1) student achievement and attitudes, (2) faculty and the mathematics community, and (3) the general educational environment.
Check with your mathematics department chair to see your institution’s free copy. Questions may be directed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.