Thinking about Learning,
Learning about Thinking

David A. Smith

Co-Director, Project CALC, Duke University

[Published as pp. 31-37 in Calculus: The Dynamics of Change (A. W. Roberts, ed.),
MAA Notes No. 39. Copyright 1996, Mathematical Association of America.]

This is a personal essay -- not a research paper -- about how thinking about learning affects the way we teach. For the most part, I am writing about my own thoughts and behaviors. When I use “we,” usually I am referring as well to my colleagues in Project CALC at Duke and elsewhere, especially my co-director and co-developer, Lang Moore. Occasionally “we” will mean all who teach calculus, and the context should make this clear. All opinions expressed herein are my own, but the words in which they are expressed in some cases were first uttered by others. I apologize in advance for failing to include proper attributions. Those of us in the calculus reform movement have shared so many ideas with each other that no one knows who first said what any more.

For reasons I hope will become clear, each of the sections of this essay is labeled with an active verb that might be associated with a modern calculus course. The paper is linear, but you don't have to read it that way.

David A. Smith <>

Last modified: May 15, 1997