Elementary Calculus I & II for Physical Sciences

MATH 144 (Elementary Calculus I for Physical Sciences) and MATH 146 (Elementary Calculus II for Physical Sciences) are two courses that compose the introductory calculus sequence for Physical 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.

Content development team

  • Vincent Bouchard, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.
  • Gerda de Vries, Professor and Associate Chair (Undergraduate), 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 Integrals (Antiderivatives and Indefinite Integrals; Area Displacement and Riemann Sums; Definite Integrals). All student activities and resources were available on eClass.

Pre-class work during this week was due the evening before the Monday and Wednesday classes. However, on a regular week students would have pre-class work before the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday classes. Prior to this Monday’s class, students viewed a video entitled “Antiderivatives and Indefinite Integrals”. Prior to Wednesday’s class, students viewed a video entitled “Riemann Sums” and completed another short online quiz. Students also completed a short online quiz on WebAssign after each of the videos. The online quizzes contributed to the students’ final grade. During this week, students would also prepare for the in-class quiz on Friday. Learning objectives and lecture summary documents were posted on eClass.



Because students engaged with online elements prior to coming to class, in-class was used to engage with the topics in meaningful ways, such as working with a team to solve a problem. The lecture material from the videos was not repeated. In-class problem solving on Monday and Wednesday used Socrative. Friday was an in-class quiz (one of four quizzes that replaced the usual midterm exam) that used a two-stage format (stage one – write exam individually for 30 minutes; stage two – rewrite the quiz for 20 minutes in a group setting).



Post-class, students could revisit in-class material on eClass. Students also completed an online assignment on WebAssign, and a written assignment on CrowdMark about the material seen the week before. Both were due on Tuesday at 11:55 PM.



General results from all cycle 1 blended learning projects

What is students’ engagement and satisfaction in different blended learning approaches?
Student Engagement
  • Survey results suggested that students above first-year level BL courses were statistically more engaged than in first-year level BL approaches:
    • Individual motivation of students in later stages of their academic program seem to influence engagement, even when students are presumably not as satisfied with the course and/or its format.
  • Interviews revealed that engagement was also boosted when students received effective ongoing instructor support, and when they were able to collaborate and interact with other students in the course:
    • The opposite occurred when students struggled with ambiguous instructions (or an unclear course structure), because this often increased their workload (having to navigate large amounts of vague information).
Student Satisfaction
  • Survey results showed that students were statistically significant more satisfied when the online video resources were not highly produced (e.g. recorded using a laptop webcam, featured the professor in a casual setting, etc).
  • Interviews corroborated that student satisfaction was mostly influenced by the quality of the online resources (and even more the online video resources):
    • Students responded positively to good quality, entertaining and informative videos. They also appreciated when the professor explained the material in a more unscripted way.
    • Students also highlighted the importance of seeing the instructor’s face when making videos for educational purposes, since this is a way to complement the pedagogical relationship between them and the instructor.
Taken together these results suggest:
  • The importance of cultivating a relationship between instructors and students in the different mediums to promote student engagement (even more to promote student satisfaction with BL).
  • And that no matter the pedagogical approach implemented instructors should always remember/aim to bolster a pedagogical connection (face-to-face and online).


What is the instructors’ experience in developing and implementing a blended learning course?
  • Instructor interviews revealed that they spent an extensive amount of time (more than expected) transforming their courses into BL. Instructor experiences were permeated by the amount of time invested reflecting about the content, developing the different materials, and implementing the different activities:
    • Even when they witnessed positive outcomes, having to spend so much time in the project greatly interfered with the rest of their academic responsibilities.
    • Furthermore, some instructors did not have the appropriate institutional support (from their department or faculty), which both hurt their attitude towards BL and made the transition more difficult.
  • These results suggest that it is vital to not only prepare instructors for the magnitude of the project they are potentially undergoing, but to also install the appropriate institutional mechanisms to support them in this process.


Do you want to know more details about our Blended Learning Evaluation? Send us an email:

L. Francisco Vargas M.

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 or Vysor, 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 Socrative 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 sheets for each lecture.

Tools & additional information











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Contact Details

Vincent Bouchard

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