Curriculum Element: A Hands-On Learning Approach to Solve Real-World Problems Using Linear Programming

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Author: Professor Julie Gordon, Mathematics Department, Prince Georges Community College (gordonje@pgcc.edu)

Short Description: Students solve real world Math problems individually and then as a team applying Linear programming, after a demonstration of methods to solve a problem by the instructor. Students get to pick problems from the textbook.

Implementation Levels: Classes focusing on basic mathematics techniques for non-STEM students. Example: Finite Mathematics (MAT 1120) at Prince Georges Community College.

Description

Students enrolled in Finite Mathematics courses are often not motivated – largely due to fear of mathematics. Thus, many do poorly, or even fail the course. This curriculum element is aimed at mitigating the low success rate by implementing a hands-on learning approach. It employs an active demonstrate, practice and share approach to learning. Initially, the instructor picks a basic problem and demonstrates the strategy to solve it using Linear Programming. The instructor also indicates that Linear Programming will be used to solve the problems. Then the students get to pick other real world problems (from the text book) and work to solve them individually at first and then in groups. This strategy helped students to realize the significance of math skills in solving real world problems.

Note: Because all the problems picked by students for the activity were from the textbook, this approach can be adopted for many types of mathematical approaches in a variety of math class.

Materials