History of Mathematics at GVSU
Kirkhof College (College IV)


Phone: 616-331-2041
Ted Sundstrom
sundstrt@gvsu.edu

Department of Mathematics
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, MI 49401
College IV, also known as Kirkhof College
Except for the College of Arts and Sciences, College IV had the most extensive mathematics curriculum of the cluster colleges at Grand Valley State Colleges. College IV opened in 1973 and originally, it was designed to operate with a pedagogical model featuring self-paced instruction, mastery learning, and modular design of a liberal arts curriculum. College IV was renamed Kirkhof College in 1978 after a generous gift from Russell H. Kirkhof.
 
One of the guiding principles of College IV was to remove some of the barriers that kept people away from higher education. One such barrier was the traditional class in which all students had to attend at specific times during the week and had to progress through the course at the pace set by the professor. To help remove this barrier, College IV centered its curriculum around “learning modules.” A module was a unit of study pertaining to a small but definable portion of a particular course. Grand Valley was on the quarter system at that time and most courses were five-credit courses. At College IV, these courses were divided into a sequence of one-half credit or one-credit modules. Each module contained learning objectives, which stated the expected goals to be achieved by the student, a study guide for the materials used to achieve an understanding of the material, and a self-test for the student to check on her or his understanding of the material. Students would work through the modules on their own but could get individualized instruction with the instructor during designated office hours. Click here to see an example of an algebra module, and  click here to see an example of a Calculus III module.
 
Much of the instruction at College IV involved one student working with the modules and one faculty member. As is stated in Grand Valley catalogs at that time, “College IV has thrown away the lecture platform and class schedule, freed the student and the professor from the drudgery of fact-passing, and engaged them both as partners in the learning process.” In addition, College IV did not use a traditional grading system. When a student completed a module, that student was given a “mastery exam” on the material. If the student demonstrated 90% mastery or better on the exam, credit for the module was given. If a student failed to master the material at the 90% level, he or she was given instructions for re-study of the material and would be allowed to take another form of the master exam. (After a third unsuccessful attempt on a mastery exam for a module, the student was required to pay an additional tuition charge before receiving more help on the material.)
 
The Original Self-Paced Mathematics Curriculum
One of the original goals of College IV was to offer a liberal arts curriculum in a modular, self-paced format. The goal was to offer a B.A. or B.S. degree in many different disciplines including mathematics. This was not possible to do immediately and College IV students who wished to major in mathematics would have to take several mathematics courses in the Department of Mathematics of the College of Arts and Sciences. (In fact, College IV never did offer its own mathematics major.) The curriculum was developed course by course over several years. During the first two years, Dr. Carl Arendsen was the sole mathematics faculty member at College IV, and he developed the modules for the mathematics courses from basic arithmetic skill through calculus. The 1974 – 75 Grand Valley catalog lists the following mathematics courses for College IV.
 
Basic Arithmetic Skills.
Beginning Algebra. 
Intermediate Algebra. (Click here to see an example of an intermediate algebra module.)
Precalculus Mathematics.
Calculus with Analytic Geometry.
 
In the summer of 1975, Dr. Philip Pratt from the Department of Mathematics helped develop the modules for the second course in the calculus and analytic geometry sequence. In addition, before the 1975 – 76 academic year began, Dr. Robert Toft resigned as Dean of College IV, and Carl Arendsen assumed the duties of Acting Dean for the 1975 – 76 year. At that time, College IV hired Dr. Ted Sundstrom as a visiting assistant professor of mathematics. Dr. Sundstrom had spent the previous two years in a visiting position in the Department of Mathematics. During that year, Dr. Sundstrom helped develop further courses in mathematics so that College IV now offered the following courses:
 
Basic Arithmetic Skills.
Beginning Algebra.
Intermediate Algebra.
Precalculus Mathematics.                                                                        
Calculus and Analytic Geometry I.
Calculus and Analytic Geometry II.
Calculus and Analytic Geometry III. 
Finite Probability.
Markov Chains.
 
In addition, College IV offered a beginning course in statistics and four courses in computer science (Programming with BASIC, Introduction to Data Processing, Programming with COBOL, and Programming with FORTRAN). The modules for the computer science courses were developed by Dr. Ken Hunter from William James College.
 
The Competency Requirements for General Education
By the end of the 1975 – 76 academic year, College IV had hired Dr. P. Douglas Kindschi to be the new dean of College IV, and he led the college in redesigning College IV from a “pure” self-paced curriculum to feature a competency-based general education program professional programs in Advertising and Public Relations, Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Occupational Safety and Health. The liberal arts programs were redesigned into broader programs such as the Humanities Program, the Natural Sciences Program, and the Social Sciences Program.
 
The competency requirements for College IV were broadly categorized as Applications of Basic Concepts, Communication, Problem Solving, Social Interaction, and Values Clarification. The Quantitative Applications Competency Requirements were part of the Applications of Basic Concepts requirements. This was briefly described in the 1977 – 79 catalog as follows:
 
Quantitative Applications
Demonstrate the ability to solve typical quantitative problems facing people in today’s world, demonstrate the ability to use a calculator, and demonstrate an understanding of the capacities and limitations of computers.
 
The college published a more detailed guide for each competency. Click on the following link to view the Quantitative Applications Competency Guide published in 1978. This guide was quite involved and work was done to streamline the competency guide and the competency itself. This can be seen in the 1981 Quantitative Applications Guide where three basic areas for the competency are described: basic algebra, probability, and statistics.
 
In 1978, College IV was renamed Kirkhof College and from about this time to the merger of the colleges in 1983, Kirkhof College began offering scheduled classes as well as continuing to offer self-paced, modular courses. Most of these courses were designed and developed by Dr. Ted Sundstrom and two visiting faculty members. Dr. James Kaput from Southeastern Massachusetts University was a visiting mathematics faculty member in 1976 – 77 and Prof. Leon Ablon from the College of Staten Island was a visiting mathematics faculty member in 1977 – 78. (In 1977, Dr. Carl Arendsen left College IV and joined the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.) Some of these courses are described in the 1978 Quantitative Applications Competency Guide. It is interesting to note that two of these courses, Algebra for Statistics and Quantitative Applications, required the use of a calculator. These were the first courses at Grand Valley in which a calculator was required. Following are the catalog descriptions of the mathematics courses offered by Kirkhof College during the 1982 – 83 academic year (the last year of it’s existence):
 
100 Basic Algebra I. Provides students with the computational and algebraic skills needed for statistics and beginning science courses. Topics include calculator operations, linear equations, percent, formulas, graphs, equations of straight lines, and applications. A calculator is required. Prerequisite: Placement by diagnostic test or permission of instructor. Offered fall and winter semesters. Three credits.
 
102 Basic Algebra II. A continuation of MTH 100. Topics include operations with polynomials, factoring, algebraic fractions, quadratic equations and curves. A calculator is required. Prereq­uisite: MTH 100. Offered on sufficient demand. Two credits.
 
105 Mathematics for Modern Living. A videotape introduction to a number of mathematical areas designed to meet the needs that arise in everyday living. The course assumes only minimal background in high school mathematics. Topics include mathematical reasoning, use of calculators and computers, solving equations, graphing, number systems, measurement, and the basic ideas in statistics. In addition to the 30 video programs, students will use printed study guides for each lesson. Problem sessions will be available. Offered on sufficient demand. Three credits.
 
112 Algebra. A calculator-based algebra course designed to prepare students for further study in mathematics, science courses, and business and professional courses dealing with quantitative techniques. Topics include polynomials, factoring, algebraic fractions, linear and quadratic equations in one and two variables, linear inequalities, systems of equations, exponents, radicals, and logarithms. Prerequisite: MTH 102 or equivalent. Offered on sufficient demand. Hour credits.
 
115 Quantitative Applications. An introduction to various statistical and quantitative concepts and methods used to interpret data, solve problems, and make decisions. Practical examples using financial analysis and elementary statistics will be used. Many of the techniques may require the use of graphs, algebra, calculators, and computers. Prerequisite: MTH 100 or 105 or placement by diagnostic test. Competency preparation: Quantitative Applications. Offered fall semester. Three credits.
 
118 Precalculus. Designed to prepare students for calculus. Topics include functions and their graphs, inverse functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, polynomial and rational functions, basic trigonometry, trigonometric functions and their inverses, solving equations. A full scientific calculator is required. Prerequisite: MTH 112 or equivalent. Offered on sufficient demand. Four credits.
 
130 Calculus and Mathematic Models. A study of the concepts of calculus from an intuitive perspective with special emphasis on applications and mathematical models from business, economics, the social sciences, the life sciences, and the environmental sciences. A full scientific calculator is required. Prerequisite: MTH 112. Offered winter semester in odd-numbered years. Three credits.
 
201 Calculus and Analytic Geometry I. A first course in calculus including some analytic geometry. Differentiation and integration of rational, algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. A full scientific calculator is required. Prerequisite: MTH 118. Offered on sufficient demand. Five credits.
 
212 Applied Statistics. An introduction to statistical methods frequently used in business, economics, and the social sciences. Topics include data presentation, measures of central ten­dency and variability, probability, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, index numbers, and time series. Prerequisite: MTH 115 or permission of instructor. Offered fall semester. Three credits.
 
240 Introduction to Operations Research. An introduction to some of the quantitative meth­ods used in the management decision-making process. Topics include decision theory, inventory control, linear programming, waiting lines, and the use of networks. Prerequisites: MTH 102 and MTH 115 or permission of instructor. Offered winter semester in even-numbered years. Three credits.
 
245 Using Microcomputers. A study of the major components of a computer system and an introduction to the uses of computers with an emphasis on microcomputers. Students will use the Radio Shack TRS-80 microcomputer throughout the course and will learn to write programs on BASIC. Prerequisite: MTH 115 or permission of instructor. Offered winter semester. Three credits.
 
312 Quantitative Application Skills. Designed for community college graduates to review quantitative skills and statistical concepts and methods used to interpret data, solve problems, and make decisions. Many of the techniques require the use of graphs, algebra, calculators, and computers. Prerequisite: Previous work in algebra and placement by diagnostic test. Competency preparation: Quantitative Applications. Offered on sufficient demand. Three credits.
 
 
  Last Modified Date: April 7, 2014
Copyright © 1995 - 2014 Grand Valley State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution