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New Projects!

Doctors and Nurses (added 1/18/11)

Solar Toasters (added 11/3/10)

Home Mortgage (added 11/3/10)

Tax Examination (added 11/3/10)

Total Cost to Produce Turbo Blenders (added 11/3/10)

Lake Pollution (added 11/3/10)

Arsenic Removal from Drinking Water (Updated 11/3/10)

Arsenic and Selenium Removal from Drinking Water to Minimize Cost (added 10/6/10)

Maximizing Movie Revenue (added 8/6/10)

Project Based Learning Pathways

ICTCM 2011 in Denver

My next presentation will be in Denver during the ICTCM conference (March 17-20):

You Too Can Get Past Exam-based Instruction in College Algebra and Finite Math - Friday 1:30PM to 2:15PM

I'll be presenting several projects and the scaffolding resources I use with them including the Gas Project. My main focus is how to set up the logistics for these projects. The projects are generally the first project of each semester so logistics are key to their success.

Latest New Project - Doctors and Nurses

I have been using the Students and Teachers 2 Project for several years in my Business Calculus class. Although I update the data in the project each year, copies of technical memos for this project are circulating on campus. I decided to rewrite the project with completely new data to challenge students this semester.

Using fedstats.gov, I discovered data for the numbers of nurses and doctors in each US state for selected years from 1999 to 2008. The goal of this project is to create a model for the nurse to doctor ratio in each state. Eash student finds a model for the state assigned to them.

Once the students find a model using the three technology assignments, they use the model to find any horizontal asymptotes. Additionally, they also determine when the nurse to doctor has/will reach a level of 4 to 1.

I started from the Student and Teachers 2 scaffolding resources to create the new resources so you'll see some similarities that project and the Doctors and Nurses project.

What Projects Am I Using This Semester?

Many new projects have also been posted. These project are linked on the right hand side of this page and on the Projects page. In the Spring 2011 semester, I am teaching Finite Math and Business Calculus online. The projects I am using in each class are listed in the table below:

  Finite Math Business Calculus
Project 1 Arsenic Removal from Drinking Water Doctors and Nurses
Project 2 Arsenic and Selenium Removal from Drinking Water at Minimum Cost Solar Toasters
Project 3 Home Mortgage Maximizing Movie Revenue
Project 4 Tax Examination Total Cost to Produce Turbo Blenders
Final Project Boston Chicken (not online) Lake Pollution

PBL Pathways is designed to help faculty at community colleges and other institutions incorporate realistic problems in their courses that challenge students and help them to develop critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills. Although this site is geared toward mathematics, the strategies could be applied in almost any discipline.

What Is It? This section describes many of the approaches to PBL including my own.

How To describes my approach through the development of a project in Brief Calculus.

Logistics describes how I am able to teach the learning objectives in my courses and use projects to assess the student learning of those objectives. A calendar is available for the Students and Teacher 2 Project under the links on this page.

Projects contains an evolving number of projects that can be used in mathematics courses at all levels of community college. Each project page contains a student letter, data and any scaffolding resources for the project.

Browse the site and "steal" ideas! I encourage you to use any of the documents. If you do, please let me know . A little appreciation goes a long way toward keeping the website dynamic and useful.

This site is motivated by a simple standard in Crossroads in Mathematics: Standards for Introductory Mathematics Before Calculus published by the American Mathematical Association of Two Year Colleges (AMATYC) in 1995:

Mathematics faculty will provide learning activities, including projects and apprenticeships, that promote independent thinking and require sustained effort and time so that students will have the confidence to access and use needed mathematics and other technical information independently, to form conjectures from an array of specific examples, and to draw conclusions from general principles.

I was also inspired to include real applications and technology in the projects by the CRAFTY Project. In particular, the chapter on Business and Management recommends

  1. Realistic business problems. We do not expect mathematics faculty to develop problems on their own. We envision a partnership, in which business faculty contribute.
  2. Solutions that make use of business technology, such as spreadsheets.
  3. Real (or realistic) data sets.
  4. Problem motivated modeling.
  5. Development of students’ abilities to express ideas symbolically.
  6. Sensitivity analysis.

I hope that the projects on this site fulfill the recommendations set forth in these two important documents.

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