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The Pathway to Calculus

A two-course college-level sequence designed to prepare students for college-level Calculus.

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Contextualized mathematics

Focusing on

Collaborative pedagogy


Embedded student success strategies

Pathway Overview

As a component of the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways (DCMP) curricular offering, the Pathway to Calculus serves intermediate-algebra-ready students who plan to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and who plan to take one or more of the traditional Calculus courses.

This pathway consists of two college-level courses, Reasoning with Functions I (RF1) and Reasoning with Functions II (RF2). It is designed to help students develop a strong conceptual understanding of functions and their behavior using explicit covariational reasoning to investigate and explore quantities, their relationships, and how these relationships change.

Explore Pathway to Calculus Materials

Reasoning with Functions I
Table of contents
Overview and Learning Outcomes

Reasoning with Functions II
Table of contents
Overview and Learning Outcomes 

Reasoning with Functions I is a 5-credit course that provides students the algebraic tools necessary to analyze a variety of function types including linear, quadratic, polynomial, power, exponential, and logarithmic functions. The course helps students develop the algebraic proficiency necessary for math-intensive subjects. RF1 includes embedded, just-in-time instruction in the algebraic skills that would traditionally be included in an intermediate algebra course.

Students go on to use their knowledge of functions and covariational reasoning in Reasoning with Functions II, a 4-credit course. In RF2, students model and solve problems involving algebraic and transcendental functions, and develop the algebraic tools necessary to model and solve problems using dynamic geometry and trigonometric functions and their properties.

Curricular materials, instructor resources, and student resources for both courses are available via Pearson’s MyMathLab, and include lesson planning suggestions, suggested resources and preparation, suggested assessments and reflections, collaborative in-class activities, online preview and practice assignments, and a library of Learning Catalytics questions.


Student Voice

After taking this class, I realize there are real-life applications for math, other than adding and subtracting or percentages for shopping. I feel really good about it."

Katie Snyder, Chippewa Valley Technical College

Course Information and FAQ

Institutions can use these materials in many different ways to support student achievement on the Pathway to Calculus. To meet your institution’s placement policies and serve your students at their preparation level, several implementation options are available.

DCMP graphic


  • College-Ready Students

    Reasoning with Functions I is designed for a cohort of intermediate-algebra-ready or bubble students. The Dana Center does not currently have a version of Reasoning with Functions I which can be used solely for college-ready students or as a co-mingled co-requisite model for both college-ready and underprepared students.

    Watch for those versions of Reasoning with Function I coming soon!

  • Intermediate Algebra-Ready

    Students who are deemed intermediate-algebra-ready take Reasoning with Functions I, and upon successful completion, take Reasoning with Functions II. In both courses, the preview assignments refresh the foundational skills required to fully engage in each class meeting.

    Successful students will be ready to take Calculus 1 in their third semester.

  • Underprepared Students

    Students who place at the Elementary Algebra level or below can take one semester in the Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning course, followed by Reasoning with Functions I and II.

    When following this model, successful students will be prepared to take Calculus 1 in their fourth semester.

  • Very Underprepared Students

    Students who place at the Arithmetic or Adult Basic Ed level are likely to need additional supports when taking the Foundations of Mathematical Reasoning course prior to RF1; we suggest that these students take the paired DCMP co-requisite support course. We recommend seven contact hours with this model.

    In the second semester, successful students move on to Reasoning with Functions I. In the third semester, they take Reasoning with Functions II.

    When following this model, successful students will be prepared to take Calculus 1 in their fourth semester. While this model requires a significant number of contact hours, it reduces the number of semesters needed to reach and complete the college-level course and provides increased student supports using a just-in-time instructional model.

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