Free Virtual Class Aims to Increase Minority Enrollment
By Audrey Hill
Fifty students from public high schools in Prince George's County are enrolled in a virtual calculus class offered through UMD for free this fall and funded by President Darryll J. Pines' office.
The University of Maryland has launched a pilot calculus course this fall in 10 Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), an important step in opening the pathway to college admissions and certain STEM degree paths for local students.
Fifty students from demographically diverse schools are enrolled in the class, taught by a College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) faculty member and coordinated by the College of Education. A collaboration with PGCPS, the calculus course is fully funded by the UMD Office of the President.
“The pilot calculus course fulfills two key university goals: preparing a scientific workforce for the state and prioritizing minority enrollment at UMD, particularly from Prince George's County,” said President Darryll J. Pines.
The calculus course is part of a broader effort to support innovative partnerships between PGCPS and the University of Maryland. As a pilot, the course is a learning opportunity on how to effectively coordinate curriculum, instruction and academic policies.
“Building on our longstanding partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools, this pilot aims to expand access to UMD courses through virtual teaching models,” said College of Education Dean Jennifer King Rice. “We hope this pilot calculus course will lay the foundation for additional virtual course offerings that will prepare high schoolers for college and attract diverse students from local schools to UMD.”
The four-credit course (MATH 140) is taught by Senior Lecturer Nathan Manning with support from four teaching assistants as well as regular monitoring of students’ academic progress by PGCPS teachers. It is offered synchronously and asynchronously to high schoolers who meet prerequisite criteria.
The course differs from AP Calculus, which is not consistently offered in some of the targeted high schools. In the UMD course, students earn college credit by passing the class, while AP students must pass the national exam. Not every college accepts the AP score for credit, and some prefer transfer college credits, said College of Education Professor of Practice Segun Eubanks. He is organizing the calculus course pilot and serving as the university liaison working to develop a long-term, broad-based agreement to provide UMD college courses to PGCPS students through the PGCPS dual enrollment program.
Monica Goldson, PGCPS chief executive officer, lauded this new opportunity for students to access rigorous math content and earn college credits.
“Many of our students are unable to travel to the campus to take courses due to the distance or other priorities,” she said. “We are hoping to create a replicable model for other courses blending the content provided by the University and support from the school."
The UMD online calculus course is currently being offered at College Park Academy; Bowie, DuVal, Eleanor Roosevelt, High Point, Northwestern, Oxon Hill, Parkdale and Surrattsville high schools and International High School at Langley Park,
“By bringing our expertise in mathematics education to local area high schools,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney, “we hope this program will open these students’ eyes to the world-class college education they can receive at the University of Maryland.”
Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.
Faculty, staff and students receive the daily Maryland Today e-newsletter. To be added to the subscription list, sign up here:Subscribe