Building Better Mathematicians - User Case Studies - Maplesoft

User Case Study: Building Better Mathematicians

Math software technology from Maplesoft is helping Professor Roger Kraft to better teach math students at Purdue University Calumet. He uses Maple, the award-winning math tool, to give students a greater understanding of the subject, help clarify concepts taught in the classroom, and deliver an interactive medium for exploring and visualizing functions.

A Springboard for Teaching and Exploring Math

Prof. Kraft chose Maple for his classroom because of its consistent and easy-to-use interface which enables instructors and students alike to capture the ideas, methods, and assumptions behind the math, hence delivering a better platform for teaching.

Prof. Kraft has been an enthusiastic member of the Maple Adoption Program since its inception. Launched in 2002, and with more than 2000 instructors participating now, the Maple Adoption Program assists instructors in making easy-to-use math technology accessible to students. Administered by Maplesoft, this program gives instructors a complimentary home-use Maple license and offers students a substantial discount on the student edition. With the Maple Adoption Program, teachers can bring complex problems to life and students can finish assignments and projects faster, improving their understanding of even the most difficult subjects.

The Adoption program has encouraged many of Prof. Kraft‘s students to explore the power of Maple. “The Maple Adoption Program gets Maple to students at a reasonable price, thus making the software very easily accessible,” said Prof. Kraft. “The Adoption program works very smoothly and lets us keep up with the latest versions.”

Students rapidly produce parametric plots with Maple

The wide and easy use of Maple has spurred Prof. Kraft to develop his own course material and homework assignments in Maple. Prof. Kraft comments, “Maple adheres to mathematical standards and provides a unified environment for the teaching and practice of math.”

One Maple homework assignment, for example, asks students to plot a parametric surface. Students interactively explore the solution space by writing down equations in a Maple document, plotting them with a suite of visualization tools (modifying the equations if necessary), and documenting their methods as well. Prof. Kraft continues, “Maple empowers students to explore the behavior of functions as they vary constants and parameters. When students come to the course, they have weak notions of functions and equations. Maple helps them investigate the math and get a better understanding not just of the results, but of the process as well.”

Prof. Kraft also teaches students how to program and manipulate data structures using Maple. He finds that students quickly learn how to use Maple’s standard procedural programming language to extend the functionality. “Maple’s interactive interface helps students learn faster,” Prof. Kraft comments. “It contains an easy-to-understand description of the syntax, with a wide array of examples that instantly clarify the concepts described therein.”

Online Resources for Maximizing Teaching Value

A prominent link on Prof. Kraft’s course web site encourages students to visit Maplesoft’s student portal. This suite of resources contains homework tips, help forums for students (moderated and guided by Maplesoft staff), training videos, and a library of Maple documents. It also delivers complete course material for many mathematical subjects, including Calculus, Trigonometry, Statistics, and Classical Mechanics. The Clickable Calculus™ course material demonstrates how instructors can teach math through point-and-click techniques, thereby enabling students to concentrate on the concepts and not on syntax.

Prof. Kraft intends to continue using Maple in the classroom. He concludes, “The combination of the consistent user interface, math functions, and visualization tools means that students learn math faster with Maple.”