The effects of implementing recitation activities on success rates in a college calculus course

Jeffrey Xavier Watt, Charles R. Feldhaus, Brandon H. Sorge, Grant A. Fore, Andrew D. Gavrin, Kathleen A. Marrs


Over a period of six years, three different types of recitation sessions were implemented into the large enrollment section of a college calculus course. During the fall semesters, the results on the departmental final examination, the DFW rates, and the one-year retention rates of students as STEM majors were examined by the type of recitation session used with the large enrollment section. The three types of recitation sessions studied were: (1) optional mentoring sessions at the Math Assistance Center conducted by undergraduate students (peer mentors), (2) required mentoring sessions conducted by graduate students, and (3) required VGNA (Verbal, Graphical or Geometric, Numeric, and Algebraic) Concept activities, which were also coupled with mentoring sessions conducted by graduate students. The success of the students in the large enrollment section of the course, which included one of the three different types of recitation sessions, was compared to the success of students in the small enrollment sections of the course (enrollments less than 50 students). The effects of using each type of recitation session on raising departmental final examination scores, lowering DFW rates, and raising one-year retention rates is presented. The results of this study demonstrate methods of raising student success rates in large enrollment (lecture-format) courses.


calculus; active learning; concept understanding; college teaching; pedagogy

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ISSN 1527-9316