Calculus boot camp gets students ready for math

By Andreas Rivera, Staff Writer

Taking a page from the U.S. military, the U has created its own style of basic training: calculus boot camp.

The U’s math department gave students the opportunity to brush up on their precalculus skills by offering five days of morning sessions last week, which were dedicated to teaching the course work of Math 1050 and 1060. It’s meant to prepare students for the calculus courses they are taking this semester, as well as engineering majors who have been lacking in required calculus education, according to professors.

“The program was originally designed for students who have been away from school for a while and aren’t caught up on their precalculus, or who want to be prepared for it,” said Marilyn Keir, a math professor and boot camp instructor. The U’s math department has been considering the program for a year and a half, modeled after a similar program at Utah State University, and even more so recently since the U’s College of Engineering pushed them to do it.

Professors noticed that a lot of engineering students lacked the proper calculus skills needed when they entered the engineering program, said Kelly MacArthur, a math professor and boot camp instructor.

But it was still available for students, particularly incoming freshmen, who wanted to be adequately prepared for their Fall Semester math classes.

Derrick Allred, a freshman in medicine, said he wasn’t going to succeed in his math class were it not for the boot camp.

“I was placed into a harder class because of my ACT score,” Allred said. “But I hadn’t taken math since I was a junior (in high school).”

The program featured instruction, problem solving and group study. Those in the boot camp were also able to take the ACCUPLACER, a test that determines which math class would best fit them. The students who took the test felt like they had grown a lot and that the course had fulfilled their expectations, Keir said.

The department of continuing education stepped in and offered support by providing leadership, marketing and organization after discovering that the program was lacking in it.

Similar boot camps will be held for students prior to each future semester to offer them the same chance to brush up their skills.

Some students said they would have “failed miserably” if they hadn’t signed up for the boot camp. Stephen Fiskell, a freshman, had not taken any math classes for a year and a half and was vague on his basic math, but the course refreshed his knowledge of the concepts and he feels ready for calculus.

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