## Math 251, sections 19 & 20, fall semester, 1996

Math 251 is third semester calculus, calculus in more than one
variable. Almost all the students who take the course have majors which require it: engineering, various "hard" sciences (such as
physics and chemistry), and some of the mathematical sciences (such as
statistics and mathematics). The course isn't required for a computer
science major, but many CS majors interested in advanced study take
it. The course is required for biochemistry majors, whose backgrounds
and ambitions are rather non-traditional, since the subject of
multivariable calculus is still structured and taught as it was
at the end of the nineteenth century, aimed towards solving the
problems of classical mathematical physics.
We made large changes in calculus instruction last year in Math
151-2 and wanted to continue these changes in Math 251. Our ambitious
revisions in Math 251 included a new textbook, incorporation of ** Maple ** labs in the curriculum,
smaller class size, increase in recitatation time from 55 to 80 minutes,
and the use of part of recitation time for workshops where students would be
encouraged to work in small groups discussing non-routine problems. Written
solutions of some workshop problems would be required, and these solutions
would be graded both for mathematical content (is the answer responsive and
correct?) and presentation (exposition of the question and the method used
to solve it). Each ** Maple ** lab would also require students to hand
in material. The course covered the same topics as in the past. Student
workload, especially preparation of material to be read and graded,
increased substantially.

Here is material related to the course, including (in
addition to what's described above) the syllabus, exams and review
problems, and some notes.

The students in sections of the course which met on Busch
were almost all engineering majors. The relevance of the
subject matter to their studies is immediate: it's a
language used in many of their upper-level courses. Most
of the students in sections 19 and 20 were majoring in
biochemistry. These students typically were quite busy
with other courses (chemistry, biology) with less
mathematical content. The rapid development of
technology, however, has made the ideas of calculus more
important to biochemists while mastery of the
computational complexities, due to such tools as **
Maple**, has become less important. I showed a
two-dimensional NMR plot of a protein (a complex
collection of contour lines) to convince students that
Math 251 was indeed useful and relevant. I assured
students that our addition of ** Maple ** to the
course was an effort to help them in their future
endeavors. We may have tried to do too much. I analyzed
the course in several
memos.

Please send mail to
Stephen Greenfield if you have questions or comments about this
material or if you use some of it in a course. An acknowledgment that
the source of the material is the Rutgers Mathematics Department would
be appreciated.

Course material in GIF format
Course material in Postscript format

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