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IMPACTful Discussion/Blog - Change to Precalculus and Calculus Curricula?

By Robert Cappetta posted 07-11-2023 11:05:03


 There are demands to change the precalculus and calculus curricula.  Do students still need to learn topics like synthetic division or Descartes’s Rule of Signs?  Might it be valuable to increase the use of real data analysis in those courses?  As technology evolves, what do students really need to know from the calculus curriculum?  Are the techniques of integration as important today as they were a generation ago?  What should be the role of infinite series in an evolving curriculum?  Since most traditional differential equations problems can be solved immediately with technology, should the course become more theoretical, more applied, or disregarded completely?  As we see our colleagues in the social sciences and humanities struggle with the realities of artificial intelligence, how should mathematics instructors change how they manage homework, quizzes, and exams?  Of course the pandemic changed everything in education, and the demand for distance learning is clearly not going away, so how does that affect students learning advanced mathematics courses?


I claim that research should guide most of the decision making processes in these areas, but sadly it seems to be undervalued in many mathematics departments.  Ideas that contradict long-held notions are dismissed as fads.  The mathematics education community has shown that actively engaging students in their learning is correlated with increased student performance and improved student attitudes, so we have a responsibility to use these best practices in the classroom to serve our students in this ever changing world.