In the late 1970s and early 80s I got involved in “faculty governance”. I had served on the executive committee of the Graduate School and eventually served on and became chair of the Executive Committee of the University Faculty Governance. Later, as a “reward”, the math chair enlisted me as Associate Chair for Education. The previous Associate Chair,and I found that our department’s calculus program seriously needed repair. Failure/dropout rates were high. Graduate teaching assistants, who taught the burden of calculus and pre-calculus courses at Michigan were given inadequate training. Interest in teaching was given low priority in the department (often none at all) in the hiring of faculty. Although classes were not very large, courses were lecture-style, syllabus was formulaic and in practice (i.e., tests) required little conceptual understanding, often just applying memorized formulas. At one time, the college considered removing Calculus 1 as satisfying the College’s Quantitative Reasoning requirement!
During the 1986 Berkeley ICM, I had a conversation withwho told me about the Sloan-funded Tulane Conference, and report (“Toward a Lean and Lively Calculus”, 1986) which was in agreement with my (and their) concerns about the teaching of calculus, and its future in the mathematics elementary curriculum. Dick organized a group of mathematicians ( , , , Dick Anderson, and I) and arranged for us to informally visit various math programs around the country. Although mathematics, student capabilities and needs, dependent science courses, and technology had vastly changed over the previous 50 years, calculus teaching had not. The effectiveness of calculus teaching seemed to be pretty much a mess. (Our group was eventually formally legitimized by the Mathematics Association of America as the CRAFTY (Calculus Reform And the First Two Years) Committee). Around this time, the critique of elementary mathematics instruction became a national issue culminating in a major national colloquium on calculus held in Washington D.C. (some 800 attendees), jointly sponsored by the MAA and National Research Council.
In the winter of 1992, I was given a quarter time release to develop a “calculator-based calculus course”. This resulted in my becoming the PI (with) for an NSF-DUI grant to develop a new calculus program at the University of Michigan. The main features of our program were these:
lecturing was minimized (students were responsible for reading the text material before class);
students participated at tables of four for discussions with each other and with the instructor;
graphing calculators were used in class and with homework;
aside from individual homework assignments, students submitted team homework assignments weekly, which were graded and returned by the instructor;
a new curriculum based on the, new at the time, Harvard textbook;
extensive training for all new calculus instructors on teaching issues.
As part of my grant agreement, between 1992 and 1996 I gave about 40 invited talks, colloquia, presentations, etc. describing the program to various mathematics departments, national mathematics meetings, etc.
The program has remained essentially unchanged over the past 20 years. Michigan currently has one of the lowest D,D,F rates for calculus of major Universities, and scored at (or near?) the top of the recent national Calculus Concept Inventory.
For about a year I was a Faculty Associate of the University’s Center on Learning and Teaching.
In 1994, for “exemplarity teaching activities”, I was named Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
Employing the ideas of cooperative learning, I later designed an advanced calculus course and a linear algebra/differential equations course, both of which are still offered at Michigan.
After retirement I designed and taught for 6 years “Combinatorial Combat”, a two-week 60-hour course in combinatorial games for highschool students attending the Michigan Mathematics and Science Scholars camp.