Each year, over 1,000,000 students take college-level courses below calculus such as pre-calculus, college algebra and others that fulfill general education requirements. Most college algebra courses, and certainly all pre-calculus courses, were originally intended to prepare students for calculus. Most are still offered in this spirit, even though only a small percentage of students has any intention of taking calculus. The MAA'S goal has been to refocus the courses below calculus to provide better mathematical experiences for all students. This initiative involves a greater emphasis on conceptual understanding with a de-emphasis on rote manipulation. The use of realistic applications, math modeling and data analysis that reflect the way mathematics is used in other disciplines is encouraged, along with active learning approaches (including group work, exploratory activities and projects). The initiative emphasizes communication skills: reading, writing, presenting and listening. The appropriate use of technology to enhance conceptual understanding, visualization, and inquiry enables students to tackle real-world problems. The 49 papers in this volume discuss various aspects of this issue. The major themes include: new visions for introductory collegiate mathematics, transition from high school to college, needs of other disciplines, research on student learning, implementation issues, and ideas and projects that work.
Charles Ashbacher Source: Journal of Recreational Mathematics