University Professor in Wisconsin uses Maple to help students get the most out of mathematics

Challenge

Professor Zoubir Benzaid wanted a tool that would allow him to most efficiently use the time in his classroom, better engage his students and enhance their learning.

Solution

Benzaid introduced Maple in his classes to provide his students with a user-friendly tool that allows them to develop a deeper understanding of core materials and concepts. He also teaches students how to use Maple to its full potential in order to maximize on its capabilities.

Result

Benzaid has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from his students regarding Maple, as it allows them to work through problems quickly and take on more challenging problems, if they desire. He also works with high school teachers to introduce them to Maple.

Technology that is convenient and serves multiple purposes is extremely valuable. When it comes to education, such multi-faceted tools can go a long way in creating a more efficient and beneficial learning environment. Digital learning tools facilitate a streamlined educational process that promotes deeper understanding and allows educators to more effectively invest their time. Zoubir Benzaid, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO), has long used digital tools such as Maple in his classrooms to better engage his students and enhance their learning.

A mathematics instructor for more than 30 years, Benzaid was first introduced to Maple by colleagues in the 1980s. He had a keen interest in scientific software and was immediately impressed by Maple’s ease of use, introducing it into his Calculus and Applied Mathematics classes shortly after. His students initially used Maple to differentiate, integrate and graph functions, and he now uses Maple in all of his classes, due to its immense power and user-friendly interface. He started a new class several years ago in Computing Mathematics that focuses specifically on Maple and its use in applied mathematics. The class provides students with a deeper understanding of Maple’s capabilities, including experience with Maple coding. “After all these years, Maple is still a dependable and effective learning tool,” Benzaid said.

Maple’s simple and natural syntax allows users to solve problems without any background in computer coding, which makes it even more appealing for both instructors and students. It allows Benzaid to invest more time in group work with the students and participate more fully in his courses. “It has greatly improved my teaching,” he said. “I use it in all of my classes and can use it for a variety of problems and demonstrations, no matter how simple or complex.”

Benzaid regularly receives a great deal of positive feedback from his students regarding Maple. Many have expressed to him that Maple helps them better understand mathematical concepts and many others started using Maple in additional courses, such as Physics and Chemistry. “They really love the clickable aspect of the software, as it gives them the ability to quickly solve equations, differentiate, integrate, plot and more,” he said. “It also allows them to tackle more realistic and complex modeling problems.”

UW-Oshkosh and Benzaid are part of the Maple Adoption Program, which provides discounted access to Maple for students at institutions that require or recommend its use. The program is valuable as it provides access to Maple at a reasonable rate, Benzaid said. “It is a great program,” he said. “Given the price of books and material for courses, making the software affordable certainly encouraged our students to buy a copy. The Maple Adoption Program makes that possible.”

In addition to his role as a Professor, Benzaid also works with the UW-Oshkosh’s concurrent enrollment program, which allows high school students to take the university calculus sequence for university credits. The program has been in effect at the school for the past 30 years and has grown to include more than 100 high schools. “I work closely with high school math teachers at different high schools and I introduced all of them to Maple,” he said. “They all use it in their high school classes, to teach labs and assignments. It is a tremendous asset that all of them plan on using for years to come.”

Benzaid continues to be a strong proponent of Maple, and uses new packages and features in Maple such as Maple’s dynamic systems, signal processing and control design packages in his new classes.

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