Math Workgroups--one-credit companion courses designed to boost performance in Calculus I, II, and III—are helping CU engineering students achieve remarkable outcomes. In small weekly sessions, students tackle problem sets together, nurturing
their understanding and comfort with calculus.
To strengthen the success of students underrepresented in engineering, the Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center partnered with the college and Department of Applied Mathematics to offer 17 sections of Calculus Workgroups during the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters.
Graduate and undergraduate learning assistants in applied math support each section, but the students challenge each other on course material as they come to “own” their level of participation. By teaching each other how to work through problem sets, students begin to fully understand the math concepts, and their grades show how valuable that understanding becomes. In fall 2012, students who enrolled in the Calculus I Workgroup
finished calculus with a 5 percent higher grade than non-takers. And, 30 percent of female students who took the Calculus II
Workgroup earned top-tier grades in the course.
These results are encouraging, and the BOLD Center is excited to continue expanding such successful programs. As one student comments, “Calculus Workgroups are a great way to verbalize in a safe environment what you know and don’t know, and then get group thought and effort to help get everyone on the same page.”
Calculus Workgroups foster inclusiveness throughout the engineering community, and the college expects these results will make a notable impact on the retention of first-year students.