TNCC Instructor Establishes Calculus Tutorial Course with $1,950 VCCS Grant


Published: February 12, 2009

Mathematics Instructor Robert W. Crumpler wasn’t always a fan of numbers. “I definitely didn’t see myself where I am now when I was in high school,” he said. When Crumpler studied engineering at Old Dominion University, the math caught his attention.

He wants to alleviate the fear of math among students at Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) with the Emerging Scholars Program, a course funded by a $1,950 grant from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The new one-credit course will be available in fall 2009 and will strengthen understanding of the concepts in Calculus with Analytic Geometry I, improving success in that course.

Crumpler hopes to recruit at least 15 students for the first class. They will work in small learning teams and Crumpler will monitor each group to be sure each student plays an active role in solving the math problems. The students will “work collaboratively on rigorous and thought provoking problems,” Crumpler said.

Crumpler was inspired to develop the course after attending the Summer Professional Enhancement Programs (PREP) Workshop in July 2008. During the event sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), Crumpler was motivated by a presentation from a founder of the Emerging Scholars Program (ESP).

ESP was created to help students excel in calculus classes and targets women, Latinos, African Americans and other groups that are typically underrepresented in math intensive programs. The program has proven success at four-year universities and TNCC is one of the first community colleges to offer an ESP course.

TNCC’s Emerging Scholars Program will target math, engineering and computer science majors, but is open to all TNCC students who are enrolling in MTH 173: Calculus with Analytic Geometry I. Crumpler hopes the course will help students excel in upper level calculus courses at TNCC and at four-year colleges and universities. “The fail rate for first time calculus students tends to be high, so this program is designed to build a foundation in calculus to help students be successful,” Crumpler said.

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