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NVU Professor Breaks Down Barriers to Calculus

NVU Professor Dr. Greg Petrics has been working to understand why calculus is a really hard subject for so many and how to break down the barriers to it. The result is Calculus for the People, an open-source and 100% free resource that’s been accessed more than 26,700 times.

As Dr. Petrics writes in the preface: “The goal of this book is to quickly get you using the core ideas of calculus to answer real world questions, and to leverage the power of the computer to help you learn. It was written for people who think they can’t understand calculus because of traditional algebraic hurdles.” 

Dr. Petrics, who has just been named the Vermont State Colleges’s Faculty Fellow for spring 2021, set out to write his calculus book “in the spirit of Edward Abbey,” he said. “It’s not a traditional calculus course at all,” he says, and covers the “core concepts of calculus and how you would use it as a person, not just a student.” 

His fellowship will afford him some time to tackle two additions to this work: the development of instructor resources “so it’s easier to transition to for other teachers,” he says, and getting started on the companion volume which will cover calculus for several variables. (The first volume covers calculus for one variable.) 

Dr. Petrics will also be teaching in NVU’s new Data Science degree program which begins August 2020.