BOLIVAR, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University mathematics professor Dr. Kevin Hopkins is one of the contributors to “Thomas’ Calculus, 14th Edition,” which was recently published by Pearson.
Hopkins’ involvement includes work on “Interactive Figures,” which appears in the MyLab™ Math online course for the textbook to help support teaching and learning. MyLab Math is an online homework tutorial, and assessment program designed to work with specific texts to engage students and improve results. Pearson’s MyLab Math features a structured environment in which students practice what they learn, test their understanding, and pursue a personalized study plan that helps them absorb course material and understand difficult concepts.
“Interactive Figures illustrate key calculus concepts and allow for manipulation,” said Jeff Weidenaar, executive editor at Pearson. “They are designed for use in lecture as well as by students independently. Math faculty find them particularly helpful for occasions when a piece of chalk falls short in helping students visualize concepts involving motion, change, or multiple dimensions.”
Hopkins was contacted by Pearson after getting Hopkins’ name from GeoGebra after he had placed some interactive calculus figures on GeoGebraTube.
“The work of others was also noticed and four of us eventually agreed to work on the project for Pearson,” Hopkins said.
“I learned there is a big difference in preparing interactive figures to use in your own classroom and preparing them to be used by a variety of users of various levels of expertise,” Hopkins said. “The figures had to include enough explanation so everyone could use them, but not too much to be excessively wordy. There were certain elements of the figure that had to be fixed so users couldn't modify those parts, but other parts needed to remain interactive.
“Since a team was working together, each of us had to give input on the figures of others and accept input on the figures we had produced. All of this required an attention to details beyond just the production of a figure to illustrate a key concept of calculus.”
Hopkins said he had to decide what figures would benefit from being made interactive, and then figure out how to make them interactive.
“I am hopeful that the attention to detail will be rewarded by many calculus teachers using these figures and many students benefiting from their use,” Hopkins said.
CUTLINE: Dr. Kevin Hopkins demonstrates Interactive Figures during one of his calculus classes.