Elementary Calculus I for Biological Sciences

MATH 134 (Elementary Calculus I for Biological Sciences) is an introductory calculus course created for Biological Sciences to increase relevancy and student motivation with a discipline-specific approach.

Blended learning approach

The rationale for transforming this course into a blended format was to improve student experience with more opportunities in class for individual and collaborative problem solving. The overall blended learning approach was to present new concepts and example problems through video format instead of lecture format. Transforming some of the current teacher-centered lectures into an online video format enabled in-class learner-centered interactive activities to support students in their assimilation of course content. The instructor gains immediate feedback and can respond to it.

Content development team

  • Thomas Hillen, Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Mark Lewis, Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Vincent Bouchard, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Gerda de Vries, Professor and Associate Chair (Undergraduate), Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Michael Kouritzin, Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Byron Schmuland, Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Sample week in the course

This course followed a Monday/Wednesday/Friday course structure. The online topic/task for this week was Antiderivatives, Substitutions and Differential Equations. All student activities and resources were available on eClass.

Pre-class work was due the evening before the Monday and Wednesday classes. Prior to Monday’s class, students viewed two videos entitled “Substitution” and “Introduction to Differential Equations”. Students also completed an online quiz on WebAssign. Prior to Wednesday’s class, students viewed one video entitled “Phase Plots” and completed another short online quiz. The online quizzes contributed to the students’ final grade. During the week, students would also prepare for the in-class quiz on Friday.



Because students engaged with online elements prior to coming to class, in-class time consisted of a combination of lecture and activities. The lecture was focused on application of the pre-class video material. iClickers were used for students to solve twelve problems and communicate their solutions. Participation in the iClicker component contributed to the students’ final grade, which occured every Wednesday. For this particular week, students completed an in-class quiz on Friday.



Post-class, students could revisit in-class material on eClass. They normally worked on two homework assignments – one online and one paper-based – which were due Friday evening. However, this week they had an in-class quiz on Friday, therefore there were no assignments due.



Resource development details for this week

Roles of the content development team (~20 hours)

  • Create the new materials and examples, and make the slides for the video with LaTeX.
  • Annotate the slides with Squid, while streaming to a computer using Mirroring360, and record/edit a voice-over with Camtasia.
  • Prepare the presentations for the in-class lectures with LaTeX.
  • Plan different levels of difficulty for the iClicker questions to be able to respond to students’ performance.
  • Formulate a practice quiz for students, and write the Friday in-class quiz.
  • Prepare a summary sheet for the contents of the week.

Roles of the CTL production team (~1 hours)

  • Upload the videos to YouTube.
  • Post the videos on eClass.

Tools & additional information










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Contact Details

Gerda de Vries

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Phone: +1 (780) 492-2826