UMD Launches Pilot Online Calculus Course for Prince George’s County Public School Students
A pilot calculus course that launched this fall in 10 Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is being taught by a University of Maryland mathematics faculty member, coordinated by the College of Education and provided free of charge to students. The online course is underway at geographically and demographically diverse PGCPS high schools, some of which do not routinely offer calculus, a key factor in college admissions.
Fifty students are enrolled in the class, which is offered synchronously and asynchronously to high schoolers who meet prerequisite criteria. A collaboration among PGCPS and UMD’s College of Education and College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS), the calculus course is fully funded by the President’s Office at UMD.
“The pilot calculus course fulfills two key university goals—preparing a scientific workforce for the state and prioritizing minority enrollment at UMD, particularly from Prince George's County,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines.
The calculus course is one of several dual enrollment programs available to PGCPS students and is part of a broader effort to support innovative partnerships between PGCPS and the University of Maryland. As a pilot, the course is a learning opportunity on how to best coordinate curriculum, instruction and academic policies across multiple institutions.
“Building on our longstanding partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools, this pilot aims to expand access to UMD courses through virtual teaching models,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer King Rice. “We hope this pilot calculus course will lay the foundation for additional virtual course offerings that will prepare high schoolers for college and attract diverse students from local schools to UMD.”
Under the leadership of Mathematics Chair Doron Levy, the department quickly reconfigured its four-credit MATH 140: Calculus I for PGCPS students. This included replacing the traditional textbook with an open-source textbook, redesigning the instructional model and identifying Department of Mathematics Senior Lecturer Nathan Manning to teach the course along with four experienced teaching assistants—all in less than two months. The students’ academic progress is regularly monitored by PGCPS teachers.
"We are very proud of this new program, which expands access to college-level mathematics for talented high-school students in Maryland, and in Prince George's County specifically,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney. “By bringing our expertise in mathematics education to local area high schools, we hope this program will open these students’ eyes to the world-class college education they can receive at the University of Maryland."
College of Education Professor of Practice Segun Eubanks is organizing the calculus course pilot and serving as the university liaison working to develop a long-term, broad-based agreement to provide UMD college courses to PGCPS students through the PGCPS dual enrollment program.
“This partnership allows our students the opportunity to access rigorous math content while earning college credits," said Dr. Monica Goldson, CEO of PGCPS. "Many of our students are unable to travel to the campus to take courses due to the distance or other priorities. We are hoping to create a replicable model for other courses blending the content provided by the university and support from the school.”
The pilot program allows UMD and PGCPS to use a small-scale project to address the challenges of coordinating curriculum, instruction and academic policies between the institutions. It also allows PGCPS to adjust its internal academic support system as it applies to individual students who are receiving advanced instructional opportunities outside of the school system. The project’s assessment will be used to construct a model for expanding this UMD-PGCPS partnership to more PGCPS schools.
The UMD online calculus course is currently being offered at Bowie, College Park Academy, DuVal, Eleanor Roosevelt, High Point, International High School at Langley Park, Northwestern, Oxon Hill, Parkdale, and Surrattsville High Schools in Prince George’s County.
Writer: Audrey Hill
About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $200 million.