Re-envisioning the Pathway to Calculus to Broaden Participation in STEM Programs

Process Stage
Math Department

Professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) help drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness in a variety of fields and industries. According to the Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are expected to grow at a rate of 1.4 times faster than non-STEM occupations, and the United States will need approximately one million more STEM professionals between 2014 and 2024 (Noonan, 2017).

However, the decreasing number of students deemed eligible for college-level mathematics, coupled with poor outcomes in developmental mathematics sequences, is negatively impacting the number of STEM degrees awarded. The insufficient number of students prepared to succeed in a college-level calculus course in their freshman year significantly reduces the pool of students likely to graduate with a STEM degree in four years (Kreysa, 2006). Ultimately, mathematics departments are left to grapple not only with how to address the poor success rates of their developmental STEM students, but also how to increase enrollments in calculus and the number of STEM graduates.

This resource describes processes that math departments can utilize to modernize their own pathway to calculus.