Math 111 is the first course of the Business Calculus Sequence that is service course provided for the Business and Economic Departments. The main objective of the course is to expose students pursuing business or economic degrees to the mathematics that they will encounter within their majors.

The following is a list of the mathematical topics presented in the course: graphical analysis, rates of change, difference quotient, function notation, linear functions, system of linear equations, quadratic functions, and exponential and logarithmic functions.

Typically, each course section consists of 160 to 200 students who statistically had the lowest average placement score among the various calculus courses offered by the Mathematics Department.

The course in its current
format was developed using predominantly the *discovery method*. A
majority of the student-instructor interactions were designed for a Socratic
method of learning and teaching. During class time, students worked the
sections of the textbook, and instructors did not readily provide outlines and
connections. Staff members in the Mathematics Study Center were trained to
avoid giving answers but to guide students instead with leading questions.
Thus, the responsibility and ability to learn the mathematical concepts were
squarely placed on the students.

Two factors attributed to student dissatisfaction with and lack of success in the class. First, students did not readily make the connections between the mathematics and the business concepts. Second, the large lecture format did not facilitate the discovery based learning by the students. The scores on the placement test indicate that many of the students had low mathematical ability. Conversely, the course emphasis on discovery learning requires high mathematical proficiency. Thus, the relationship between students’ abilities and the expectations for the students and the lack of connections created a negative mathematical experience for the students.

Students expressed their dissatisfaction with the course on the course evaluations administered at the end of the term. On the evaluations, four common complaints about the textbook were made by students. First, students expressed difficulties identifying the questions within the sections of the textbook. Second, students revealed the lack of ability to develop an overview or outline of the concepts on their own. They expressed confusion about the goals of the section. Third, students didn’t recognize the usefulness of the mathematics for their future business courses because the textbook didn’t make those connections clear. Fourth, math anxiety for many students was increased because the textbook offered little feedback as students worked through the sections.