Dr. Naveen Vaidya
Department: Mathematics & Statistics
EUReka Course: MATH 210: Calculus I
See Dr. Vaidya's Syllabus.
How was teaching your EUReka class different from other similar classes you've taught?
In my EUReka class, students were heavily involved in research activity based learning. The students learnt calculus materials via real-life research projects, developed based on published experimental data. Throughout the semester, I guided them as a mentor for their group projects. While traditional lecture-style was also used in the class, students’ primary focus on research group activities to grasp the concept of course materials was a novel approach in this class and was different from other similar classes I have taught.
How did teaching a EUReka class allow you to more tightly intertwine your research interest and your teaching responsibilities?
My research interest is using mathematical models and techniques to address biological questions. Many projects in this EUReka class came from biology and health sciences. My previous research experiences were directly applicable to some of these projects. With this EUReka course I was able to somewhat widen my research field while achieving responsibility of teaching calculus knowledge to my students.
What do you think your EUReka students benefited from being exposed to undergraduate research early in their academic careers?
Calculus is considered one of the most difficult mathematics courses. With this EUReka course, students benefitted from gaining clear concepts on practical aspects of calculus materials. As a result, they enjoyed and obtained solid foundation on practical knowledge of calculus, as expressed by most of them in the final survey. In this course, they received opportunity to gain basic ideas of research such as identifying research questions, literature survey, data gathering, and analysis of functional relationships using calculus materials. Overall, I think they became ready for taking the higher calculus courses and performing the related real-life research.
What advice would you have for colleagues thinking of offering a EUReka course
I strongly suggest considering research activity learning approach for teaching. There are tremendous benefits from this approach as it provides an ease of learning, an enjoyable environment for learning, and a development of network among students. I suggest to put efforts on guiding students for selecting appropriate topic of research. Also, explaining them project expectations as clearly as possible will help them move smoothly towards the research goals. In summary, the EUReka course with activity based learning can be a superior way of teaching to the traditional lecture based teaching.