The materials created by Marcela Chiorescu and Rachel Epstein of Georgia College for Affordable Learning Georgia Textbook Transformation Grant #449, “Improving Equity in Precalculus,” include the following:
Extra in-class activities
Study skills assignments
Written homework assignments
How to use the worksheets
The worksheets were designed to be used in class, in place of standard lecture notes. The idea for using the worksheets is to divide the students into small groups of around 4 students and have the groups work in-class on the worksheets while the professor and any Supplemental Instructors (SI’s) help out. It is up to the professor to decide which parts of the worksheet they want the students to work on in groups and which parts to discuss together. The vast majority of the material is designed for students to do in groups. Usually, at the beginning of the class, the professor would briefly discuss the material from the previous class and/or introduce the new material.
One way to help encourage active and equitable participation in groups is to give students daily “team roles.” For example:
Board scribe – writes on the white board provided for the group
Paper scribe – writes on the “group worksheet,” which will be turned in at the end of the day so the professor can assess the work. Group worksheets are not graded.
Reader/spokesperson – reads the worksheets aloud. They also answer questions directed at their group.
Facilitator – sets the pace and makes sure everyone understands before moving on.
It is important to also make it clear to the students that they are all responsible for discussing the problems together.
Extra in-class activities
The “Preview Activities” can be done at the beginning of the semester and helps the students to think about graphing a real-world situation. It can be discussed as an example when learning about functions, composition, one-to-one functions, and inverses.
The “What is a Function” activity is a very brief activity that asks students to define a function before they learn it in class. The “What is a Function Really” homework assignment asks them to critique and revise a definition given by one of their friends or family members, but you could also have them critique and revise their own definition from the “What is a Function” activity.
The “Ferris Wheel Activity” introduces the idea of a sinusoidal function, but can be done before sine and cosine are defined.
The “Sun Moon Earth” activity involves a simple use of trigonometry to determine that the sun is much further from the Earth than the moon is.
These activities could be turned into homework assignments if there is no time in class to do them.
There are four written homework assignments. These are designed to help the students think critically about what they have learned. Each has been designed with transparency in mind. The Log Table assignment and the Earth’s Radius assignment each incorporate some history of mathematics. Students will likely struggle with these assignments, as they require that they use what they have learned in ways they have not yet done. They will also need to explain their reasoning.
The written homework assignments are not intended as the only homework assignments. One way to provide them practice with the material is to assign online homework, such as through Edfinity, Rover, or WebWork.
Study Skills Assignments
The study skills assignments are designed to be given as homework toward the beginning of the semester. The mindset assignment introduces the students to the concept of growth mindset through a series of short videos and asks the students to write about what they learned. The other two assignments ask the students to watch videos about good and bad study habits by Dr. Stephen Chew of Samford University and to reflect on their own study habits and the idea of metacognition.