The DHSP Workshop

The Douglass Houghton Scholars Program is based on a proven, award-winning national model that seeks to broaden understanding and exposure to math and science.

w15boardThe centerpiece of DHSP is the 2-credit Douglass Houghton Scholars workshop, which complements the regular calculus sequence, Math 115 (Calculus 1) and Math 116 (Calculus 2). Each workshop is limited to 18 students.

In class we work in groups of 3 or 4 on hard calculus problems. Most of our work is done on the board, so that everyone in the group can focus on a problem together. While groups are working, the instructor will circulate and ask questions, but not give answers. If you want answers, you’ll need to find them yourself. At the end of class we’ll all come together as a big group, present our results to each other, and hopefully reach a consensus. But sometimes there will be a problem that no one has solved, in which case we will tackle it again in the next class, perhaps with more tools.

The problems we do are a mixture of different types. Among them are

  • Applications of calculus to sciences,
  • Puzzles,
  • Old exam problems, and best of all,
  • Natural questions that can be asked without any numbers.

Click here to see some example problems.


Note that some of those categories are different from the material on the Math 115 exams. In fact many of the most interesting uses of calculus don’t make good exam problems, for one reason or another, and most real-life problems are less well-defined than exam problems. One of the advantages of a workshop without exams is that we can do such problems, and see really interesting results.

However, never fear. Before the exams in the regular calculus classes, the workshop will focus directly on preparing for those exams. Besides doing exam problems together, we will make review sheets as a class, and spend two days taking a practice exam and going over it. Many students have found this helpful.

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