Rutgers Preparatory School '93 Somerset N.J. The Mathematics Department decided to keep the hotly-debated MAPLE software program in next year's calculus curriculum. Freshman students complained the program was too difficult to understand, and said they did not receiving enough instruction from professors. In protesting the program, some students sold T-shirts that read "Fuck MAPLE." After the uproar, the program was reviewed by the Math Department and changes were made to alleviate perceived problems. To overcome the fall semester's lack of instruction in the program, the Math Department instituted mandatory orientation sessions for all students taking calculus last semester. In orientation sessions, teachers watched students learn basic tasks with the programr. "The intention of the [orientation session] is to allow the students to overcome the intimidation," said Math Department Chairperson Dennis DeTurck early last semester. "Students will be able to get a syntax error and learn that they can recover from that." DeTurck said the faculty's lack of familiarity with the program will not impede the learning process. "The faculty did not know [MAPLE] very well [in the fall]," DeTurck said. "A lot of the faculty had been learning the program along with the students." Afternoon sessions, which began in the middle of the fall semester, are also being offered to help students solve MAPLE problems. College freshman Matthew Taff, one of two freshmen who petitioned Interim Provost Marvin Lazerson to change MAPLE, said last semester he believed the Math Department "scaled back on the difficulty." "Even with the improvements, MAPLE is still a royal pain in the ass," College freshman Yedida Soloff said. Outgoing College of Arts and Sciences Dean Matthew Santirocco said he hopes the changes will make MAPLE easier. "Right now, my sense is that it is very encouraging that the Math Department has taken the lead in instituting new programs," Santirocco said in January. "They have heard the students' concerns and have tried to respond to them." With new confidence behind MAPLE, the Math Department sees no reason to get rid of the program. Santirocco said the "critical mass of people" -- students and faculty alike -- now exposed to MAPLE will also be helpful for next year's freshmen in providing support. DeTurck said because doing calculus on paper is "not a marketable skill," MAPLE is all the more important and, therefore, the Mathematics Department will try to adjust to any problems to allow for the success of the program.Comments powered by Disqus
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