SLU- SUMMIT-P Making Math Education More Effective for Business Students

Mike May
Saint Louis University

Need: The projects of the SUMMIT-P consortium looked at making mathematics education more effective for partner disciplines, a longstanding issue in STEM education. Guiding Question: SLU’s project looked at math and business. It started with a variant of the original CRAFTY Curriculum Foundation Project approach and started with an interdisciplinary committee that would be a focus group and give guidance to the work. The hope was that the process would be a reproducible model that could be used with other disciplines. It was envisioned that the project would look at math beyond calculus. The project wanted to examine if this process would have measurable impact.Outcomes: The process of listening to the partner faculty led to a refocusing on mathematics below calculus. It also led the business faculty to reexamine how they used math in their courses and how to build tighter integration.The project led to four subprojects that should be sustainable after the grant concludes. Two of the subprojects primarily reside within the math department. The first looked at a one semester calculus course aimed at the needs of business students. The second math subproject looked at a modeling themed college algebra course with a business focus. Two of the subprojects primarily live in the courses of the partner discipline. The first business subproject produced a math skills test and remediation module for accounting students. The second business subproject produced a set of dynamic math visualization tools for business courses.Each of the subprojects produced a deliverable:The business calculus subproject produced an online book along with supporting materials that are available under an open-source library. We have anecdotal evidence that it increases student engagement. We are working on a study of that feature.The college algebra subproject produced a series of worksheets that can be used to walk students through progressively more robust modeling exercises.The visualization subproject has produced a series of applets that are used by the business faculty in their courses.The prerequisite skills remediation subproject produced a skills test for managerial accounting along with remediation material organized on a website.Broader impact:The model of service course renovation has now been used for another course at SLU beyond the scope of the grant. It was used for a statistics course aimed at nursing and allied health. Can be reproduced.The Excel Calculus text being used by at least 2 other institutions.The Excel modeling worksheets for college algebra are designed to be adaptable to a modeling-based college algebra without a business focus. The math preparation test and remediation process can be adapted to other partner disciplines. This is probably the subproject that can most easily be adjusted to other disciplines. It directly addresses the reality that partner disciplines regularly complain that their students arrive without sufficient math skills.As noted above, the process of course renewal, involving the partner discipline in a structured way, has already been used on another course with another discipline.