Comprehensive Assessment Tracking System

MATLAB and Euler/RK4

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 to Friday, February 10, 2017
What is the Need/Assessment?: 

Updating Old CATS - see Abstract

Describe the necessity for this change: 

Updating old CATS - see abstract

Describe what will be (or was) implemented to affect change: 

Continued same implementation from abstract with a larger emphasis on journal writing.  

Interpret, compare and describe the results of the change: 

In Fall 2018 - implemented same as described in abstract with more journal writing.  Only 2 students were unable to get MATLAB to run.  While 3 students had the wrong answer, they were able to code in MATLAB (and this is a cource competency).   Note:  There are 30 students in the class.  

After analyzing the information, what are the next steps?: 

I will continue to always cover direction fields, Euler's method, and RK4 for MATLAB using the process as described in the abstract.  When another faculty member teaches MAT276, I will recommend doing this with students.  


In differential equations, a programming tool called MATLAB is required for the course.  MATLAB allows students to solve/estimate solutions to complex equations through coding.  The problems on the exams that require solving through coding are the number one reason why students do not pass the exam.   For example, every semester, for the last 5 years, students struggle with coding for two different estimation methods:  Euler and Runga-Kutta (rk4).  In past semesters, these two topics were taught separately with MATLAB done on different days.  In Spring 17, I had students use MATLAB for both Euler and RK4 on the same day.  The code was projected on the white board for both techniques and students saw the similarities and differences between the two methods and how to code for each.  Students were then given one problem to solve and had to use both codes.  Students were surveyed at the end of class, and they unanimously stated that doing both on the same day helped them distinguish the differences.  The first exam had only 3 people fail due to coding, as compared to approximately 8-10 in previous semesters.

Completed Full Cycle: 
Course Number: 


OLGYZ58951's picture
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Becky, What a great tool for learning! You used a simple solution to give the students a more successful learning experience.  Thank yo for sharing! Smiles, Olga

PETAA00009's picture
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You really want another CATS mug, don't you? Just kidding . . . this was an obviously good CATS that contained all of the critical parts. Well done!

AMY2068401's picture
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Hi Becky -

You have clearly demonstrated the value of using comparative analysis to reinforce learning. What makes this approach even stronger is that you require problem solving using both methods - an active means by which students can see the similarities and differences at work in these two analytical approaches.  I can think of a number of opportunities in biology where I can employ this approach as well.  Thanks!