One of the most important factors in student success in mathematics is correct placement, so calculus at RIT begins with the Math Placement Exam (MPE). Based on the results of the MPE, students are directed to a sequence that matches their academic needs, shown in the flow chart below.
Each of the courses, in the flow chart above (excluding Precalculus) has two hours of workshop per week. The academic content of a workshop depends on the particular educational objectives of the course to which it's attached; all workshops, regardless of the course they support, are organized around cooperative study, interaction, and participation in the problem-solving process. They are not traditional recitations, nor are they a time for students to do or discuss homework from lecture.
Here are some examples of topics from worksheets in the project-based calculus sequence:
Using the derivative to examine the reflective properties of parabolic dishes, elliptical couplers, and hyperbolic mirrors
Using the integral to calculate the net total of distributed quantities such as mass, energy, and charge
Using sequences to predict the evolution of social and natural systems
Using the improper integral to interpolate the factorial
Worksheets are written to be relevant to students' lives (either personally or professionally) and often introduce students to "real" problems. Of course, "real" problems are "real" hard. To help students make the transition to collegiate level thinking and ability, each workshop is supported by both a faculty member and a Workshop Leader; they attend workshop to help facilitate student group discussions.
Each course in the Project Based Calculus sequence has, as you might expect, a term project. These projects vary from semester-to-semester, and from instructor-to-instructor. Students are expected to solve the given problem, and to write a clear, concise, technical report in which they delineate the process by which they found the solution.
Some recent topics for projects are given below.
Bezier curves, such as those used by Adobe Illustrator and other vector graphics programs
The final exam for each section of each calculus course is given in two parts:
A multiple-choice "common core" in which students are asked to demonstrate basic skills and knowledge that are fundamental to the subject
A free-response part written by the individual instructor in which students demonstrate skills and knowledge particular to that section and instructor
The School of Mathematical Sciences prohibits calculators on the final exam of calculus (and other first-year) courses. Many professors prepare students for this by prohibiting calculators on exams during the term.
Common sense points to adequate preparation as an important element in student success. Particularly when courses are in sequence, demonstrated competence in one course provides the best foundation for success in the next. For this reason, students in calculus must earn a letter grade of at least "C-" before continuing on to subsequent courses.