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AP Calculus/college calc

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Replies to: AP Calculus/college calc

  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Registered User Posts: 2,943 Senior Member
    S, an engineering major, just attended orientation at his university. During his engineering overview talk, the dean advised all incoming freshmen to retake their last hs math class unless they were an exceptional math student.
  • MomofWildChildMomofWildChild Registered User Posts: 22,682 Senior Member
    Part of why my son thought he was doing so poorly in his first college calc course was because he was getting 50s and even lower on the quizzes. Turns out with the curve those were As and A-s. To me, there is something wrong with that. He may opt for a minor instead of a double major simply based on having to take (or not) the next calc course.
  • shennieshennie Registered User Posts: 2,467 Senior Member
    I live in a town with a major university. A number of years ago I was at an event and ended up eating lunch with a couple of engineering professors. They see strong math students struggle in calc. all the time. They think that part of the problem is that in high school, the courses meet every day for a year, so students get it smaller bits and get time to digest the material. In college, the Calc III classes meet 3 times a week for a semester. The students who start in Calc I in college and move up learn their concepts in a semester, learn to ask for help when needed, etc. The profs said that the first semester freshmen that went right into Calc III just weren't prepared for the pace of the class and didn't ask for help when they floundered because they never floundered before. The profs also said that material covered really varied from high school to high school whereas the college material was consistent through the 3 courses.

    That being said, 2 of my sons went right into Calc III at 2 different colleges. One ended up with a B and the other with a B+. Both felt that they were prepared for Calc III and did not encounter anything that they were not prepared to handle. They did have excellent high school math teachers. Both got 5s on the AP BC exam.
  • ericatbucknellericatbucknell Registered User Posts: 758 Member
    calculus 3 will be an easy course for anyone who has a strong conceptual understanding of concepts from calculus 1 and 2. unfortunately, a ton of people pass the ap calculus exams (and even many pass calculus 1 and 2 at the college level) who have not developed a strong conceptual framework.

    in practical terms, the kids who were taught to repetiviely plug certain pieces of information into an expression and integrate are going to really struggle in calc 3 because the the amount of information that needs to be 'plugged' in order to solve a given problem starts becoming too large to memorize. add in the pace of the course--faster than calc 1 or 2--and it is no wonder that many seemingly qualified students struggle.

    as such, throw me in the pool that recommends a retake of calc 2 for most students, especially those at high schools that do not teach calc ab and bc as a sequence.
  • CalreaderCalreader Registered User Posts: 1,029 Senior Member
    One more thing to keep in mind - some colleges don't let students re-take calculus 1 or 2 if they have already taken it in high school. The college my daughter is heading off to this fall says that students must head to multivariable calculus if they have either a 3+ in AB or a 4+ in BC. But they have two different multivariable calculus courses, one for students who have seen infinite series and one for students who haven't.

    I imagine this leads to more similar backgrounds among the students who land in each course, which might make the courses easier to teach.
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