Maple in the science and engineering
calculus sequence: MAT1500-1505-2500-2705

Maple is a terrific tool for anyone who loves mathematics, and it can easily be picked up by students as a useful tool for their calculus studies if their instructor provides a good example, incorporating it naturally into daily work and gently encouraging students to follow this example by doing a few key problems in the textbook with Maple regularly in small groups so no one has to get frustrated by roadblocks that might come up without other human beings around to see things in a different way. Anything which is not fully integrated with the day to day activities of the class will have less of a chance of being effective. Allowing students to use Maple to check their work on quizzes and tests is a big incentive which can win over students. Such assessment should not be about questions which a technology readout can answer in any case, but instead test their ability to carefully communicate in standard mathematical notation the mathematical steps towards the solution of assessment problems.

The "clickable calculus" interface developed for Maple means that students entering any one of these courses with no previous Maple experience is not a big problem. A three minute video gives an impression of how this works in so called Document Mode, but similar manipulations work in the more structured Input/Output/Text region Worksheet Mode. Maple's palettes to build Mathematical expressions and equations, coupled with context sensitive right click menus, allow students easily to perform operations that are called for in this sequence of math courses. Instructor templates can be used to investigate other relevant ideas where a student needs guidance. Worksheet mode is more structured and gives students exposure to Maple commands which are necessary to use in templates. Here is the 3 minute video:

Any instructor who is not sufficiently familiar with Maple should start with a careful reading of the Maple Examples and Tips page:

To have a sense of how Maple can be used for all the topics of each of these four courses, there is a Maple example worksheet for each course listed at the top of this Maple Examples and Tips webpage, but first the rest of that webpage should be digested since it gives an overview of nearly everything essential in understanding how its interface works.

For someone truly interested in using Maple more effectively there is a one hour (approximately) webinar video that is very helpful, and then the Clickable Calculus series of 6 webinars (about an hour each but you don't have to do them all at once!):

Examples of one person's incorporation of Maple into each of these four courses may be found at the following link, although MAT1500 has not gotten updated treatment.

Each course has a home page updated that last time it was taught, with links to a daily log including links to Maple worksheets used during the class and PDF notes when useful. Every quiz and test given this century is listed in the archive with the quiz/test PDF output from a Maple worksheet, together with the hand written solution PDF and the Maple worksheet solution backing up all the hand calculations. Maple is allowed to check all calculations on quizzes and tests.

Quiz/Test Archive

Maple assignments are low key and minimal in requiring students to give it a try, and serve the equally important purpose of forcing students to make partnerships in the class that can help them with homework and test preparation. Worksheet assignments are submitted by email, graded and returned with corrective comments, and students are allowed to resubmit until they get full credit, or even come get help on fixing them with the instructor, and count only 10 percent of the grade, which is easy to get full credit for. It is more important to show by example using "Clickable Calculus" how Maple can be used in their daily work much more effectively than graphing calculators. Most students catch on, some resist, like their instructors I am afraid.

--- bob jantzen, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Villanova University