February 2022

College Calculus Doesn’t Have To Be a Roadblock

College Calculus Doesn’t Have To Be a Roadblock

In a commentary for EdSource, Just Equations National Policy Director Melodie Baker highlights the responsibility of college math departments to create the classroom conditions and supports that allow students from diverse backgrounds to succeed in Calculus as an entry point to a STEM major.

EDSOURCE—Calculus is expected to be difficult; it should not be impossible. But, too often, this course becomes a gatekeeper that pushes students out of careers in science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — fields, especially women and marginalized students. However, it is not certain types of students, but certain instructional approaches and learning conditions that ensure deeper learning and even enjoyment in college calculus classes. The evidence is undeniable that math classrooms can support greater success for women and marginalized students, according to a report I recently co-authored. Charting a New Course: Investigating Barriers on the Calculus Pathway to STEM, published by the California Education Learning Lab and Just Equations, is based on a review of more than 200 books, journal articles, research reports, other online and print sources and a dozen interviews.

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