Agile and Active

Sustaining Pedagogical Change in a Large-Enrollment Calculus Course


  • Cindy Cogswell Dartmouth College
  • Scott Pauls Dartmouth College
  • Adrienne Gauthier Dartmouth College
  • Erin DeSilva Dartmouth College



STEM retention, SoTL, Active learning


It is well documented that the use of active learning strategies increases student learning (Freeman et al., 2014; Prince, 2004; Springer, Stanne, & Donovan, 1999). A key difficulty in innovating college mathematics is identifying and sustaining what works for both students and the faculty. This study discusses efforts to innovate and sustain curricular change in introductory calculus at a private, elite institution. To examine if incorporating active learning strategies made a difference in student performance, student grades in the redesigned course and performance in subsequent courses were analyzed. Using Austin’s 2011 framework to understand the context in which the course redesign took place, individual faculty and contextual barriers and “levers” to sustain change are discussed. Findings are applicable to other STEM disciplines and to colleges and universities in general. Next steps in this research include identifying how to scale change, including, perhaps, networks of faculty to implement and spread the reform on campus.

Author Biographies

Cindy Cogswell, Dartmouth College

Cynthia A. Cogswell completed her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs, with a minor in Teaching and Learning, at Indiana University. She is currently an Associate Director of Accreditation and Assessment at Dartmouth College. Cynthia also received a master’s degree in Leadership & Higher Education from Baldwin Wallace University, and a baccalaureate degree in Fine & Applied Arts from the University of Akron. Her research interests include regional accreditation, learning, outcomes assessment, credentials and faculty development.

Scott Pauls, Dartmouth College

Scott Pauls completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania after receiving a B.A. in Mathematics from Columbia University.  He is a full professor of mathematics and chairs the Department of Mathematics at Dartmouth College.  His research interests lie in the mathematical study and analysis of complex systems.

Adrienne Gauthier, Dartmouth College

Adrienne Gauthier is a learning designer in the Learning Design and Technologies team at Dartmouth College. Specializing in STEM courses and leading the Learning Fellows Program, she collaborates with faculty on course design, active learning strategies, and student-centered learning environments.  She received an M.Ed. in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Virginia after completing a B.S. at UMASS Amherst focusing on physics, astronomy, and science education.

Erin DeSilva, Dartmouth College

Erin DeSilva is the Assistant Director for Learning Design and Technologies at Dartmouth College. She supports faculty in creating effective and engaging learning experiences through active learning strategies that include team-based learning, student response technology, and more. Erin holds an Ed.M. in Educational Media and Technology at Boston University and a B.S. from Simmons College. She has worked in science and technology education at Brown University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Museum of Science in Boston and a PBS affiliate in Toledo, Ohio.