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Changing Calculus: A Report on Evaluation Efforts and National Impact from 1988–1998

Susan L. Ganter
Mathematical Association of America
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
MAA Notes
[Reviewed by
Herb Kasube
, on

Since the Tulane Conference of 1986 there has been much discussion of what has become known as Calculus Reform. The profession has seen the introduction of numerous new textbooks designed to implement this new approach to teaching calculus. Much has been written about how and why we should reform calculus. We have also heard much debate about the merits of calculus reform. Some comments have been fueled by emotion while others by research. What Susan Ganter has done in this excellent volume is report on the efforts to evaluate the impact of calculus reform.

Ganter begins with an overview of the history of and raison d'être for calculus reform. She describes what calculus reform actually is and who is affected. She mentions faculty as well as students. She goes on to carefully describe the design of the study of the effect of calculus reform. This very complete description includes methodology, scope of information, quality of data and the reporting of data.

Ganter continues to present extensive statistical information on NSF-funded projects. I found this section particularly interesting because it described the types of projects that had been funded, outcomes and pedagogical strategies. There are five informative tables in this section alone.

The next two sections center on student achievement and attitudes both pre- and post-1986. Since students have always been the main focus of calculus reform I was pleased to see these sections handled so deftly. Ganter paints an excellent portrait of our students.

After studying the students' reactions, Ganter turns toward faculty attitudes and reactions. She cites faculty reactions to both the content and the pedagogy of calculus as is currently being taught.

The end of the volume includes a discussion of the current status of reform, suggested areas of further study and an extensive list of references.

This is an important volume for all that are in the calculus classroom, regardless of which side of the debate you support.

Herb Kasube ( is Associate Professor of Mathematics at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. His interests include the history of mathematics as well as the mathematics curriculum. He serves on both CUPM and CRAFTY. When not involved in mathematics, Herb can often be seen jogging around his Peoria neighborhood.

The table of contents is not available.