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A guide that introduces students to the notoriously tough subject’s fundamental blueprint.

One can easily imagine Umbarger (Explaining Logarithms, 2006), with his 30-plus years of teaching various math courses to various grade levels, has frequently encountered the question “Why do I need to know this?” His recognition of this popular question’s legitimacy lays the groundwork for his uncommon teaching here. Practical application and big-picture context—two ideas normally reserved as cake toppers in mathematics—are integrated at each stage of Umbarger’s guide, allowing readers to continually examine their current level of knowledge in terms of the “whole story” of calculus. Proceeding on the belief that having a reason to care about calculus is a prerequisite for grasping the subject, Umbarger moves from one point to the next by virtue of practical application scenarios. Students edging their way into calculus for the first time will find that, by calling on their cumulative body of learned methods up to a given point, they can solve a given, real-life problem in the text—to a point. The author utilizes students’ organic frustration with the limits of their ability as a hinge leading into his next topic, encouraging a self-propelled way of learning. In mimicking the original, need-based discovery of the founding ideas of calculus, this manual steps outside the linear organization of traditional calculus texts; at the same time, it makes itself accessible to a wide array of math-shy students who have never had their basic questions (such as “How will I ever use this?”) answered. Populated by the expected charts, graphs and tables, this manual also includes well-placed explanatory photos and the occasional cartoon for comic relief. While the book’s layout seems most conducive to students preparing to enter calculus, it also includes helpful hints for instructors who may have become so familiar with the ins, outs and overview of calculus that they have difficulty seeing it from the perspective of a student new to the subject.

Well-organized and student-friendly, this book thoroughly covers the mainstays of calculus.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0983397304
Page count: 171pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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