Was the Establishment of Calculus Foundation Course Successful?
Was the Establishment of Calculus Foundation Course Successful?
  • Reporter Choi Jong-hyeok
  • 승인 2014.09.03 19:03
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This year, the Department of Mathematics in POSTECH established a calculus foundation class for freshmen who are relatively weak in calculus. In the foundation class, calculus is taught at a basic level. By testing all the freshman during the orientation week, those with poor results (Grade D and below) not only had to register for the foundation course in the first semester, but also had to stay in school during the summer break for about five weeks to complete the course. This policy was executed to ensure that students would adapt to the school syllabus more easily. However, students’ opinion turned out to be different from the goal of establishing this course.
 Most students think the foundation course was not effective for the following reasons. First, during the lecture, the professors  handled the definition of differential, integral and practical use of calculus. But, these are handled in high school and freshmen who are in POSTECH had already passed the entering test that checks the applicant’s mathematic skills. In other words, they already know the basic materials of calculus. Second, the grade of the class has no effect on scholarship. In the beginning of the school term, the rumor that the grade of the class does not affect scholarship had spread throughout the campus. Later on, the Department of Mathematics confirmed that the grade as free selection, which does not affect scholarships. POSTECH gives scholarships to students who have a GPA over 3.0., and several Postechians study to maintain it. But as the grade of introduction of calculus does not influence scholarship, freshmen did not care much about their examinations.
The problem occurred during summer vacation as well. Freshmen with grade over C from the orientation exam had learned calculus at a university level over the first semester. That is to say, they studied the text book, Thomas Calculus Early Trans- cendentals, for a semester. But freshmen whose grade is under D studied the same thing for only five weeks. Although the lecture proceeded in vacation, as the classes are fast paced, students found it difficult to catch up. Those things seemed to interfere with effective understanding.
Although the purpose of the foundation class was notable, it has its flaws. Realizing their flaws, the Department of Mathematics decided not to make the same mistake. As the first step toward a solution, the Department of Mathematics received feedback from the freshmen. Secondly, it suggests that the class takes place not on vacation but during the semester. As to the existence of this class, it will be maintained because there are approximately thirty percent of freshmen who have not studied Math II in high school. Though more improvements are needed and are being decided upon, the matters are to be confidential to the general students before anything is decided upon. In the meanwhile, the Department of Mathematics will hold several meetings with the representative students and freshmen who have taken this course for further feedback.
The Head of the Department of Mathematics, Professor Hyun Kwang Kim, requests Postechians, especially freshmen, to suggest their opinion about improving the competence of themselves and junior colleagues of POSTECH. Students’ active participation is needed.