Project-Based Instruction in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts

New!!  This PBL site  has now been translated into Romanian.  Click to access the Romanian version.

NOTICE:  Although I have retired from the University, I intend to support this problem-based learning site for use by those interested in materials posted on it.  In the near future, I may have to move the site to a new server.  If you wish to be notified of the new address (when and if the site moves), please send me (  ) your email address.  I will not use it for any purpose other than the one intended.  I never share user addresses with anyone else without permission.  -- MBU

QuickLinks to Projects:  Preliminaries | Linear | Stat/Prob | Non-Linear | Exponential | Logistic

Current Assessment Data on the Course

Data on Subsequent Performance in statistics

The purpose of this web site is to provide projects and resources for instructors and students who wish to teach and learn college mathematics or post-algebra high school mathematics via project-based instruction. Check the site often for additions and improvements.

Project-Based Instruction in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts (PBI-MLA) was developed at the University of South Carolina Spartanburg (now known as University of South Carolina Upstate). In six years, it developed a 30% higher success rate than traditional textbook-driven sections of College Mathematics.

We hope to provide support for others who wish to attempt this innovative and very practical form of instruction. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact Dr. M.B. Ulmer at or at USC Upstate, 800 University Way, Spartanburg, SC 29303. Phone (864)503-5224, and leave a message.  (Since I've retired, I'm probably not there! :) )

This site receives many hits from outside the USA. (Click the graph icon at the bottom of this page for the latest count.)  If you are interested in attending a university in the heart of the region of highest per capita international investment in the USA, click this link.

About the program

Examples of course organization materials

A class-tested selection of activities and associated day-by-day procedures

Projects, activities and handouts in .PDF format  (If you do not have a reader for PDF files, you may get Adobe Acrobat Reader free of charge by clicking this link.) [Projects and activities are placed in the categories below for purposes of organization. Placement of a project in, e.g., the Linear Function category means it addresses linear functions. It may also address other listed concepts, e.g. exponential functions and probability.   Notations in brackets indicate sections in the course booklet pertaining to that activity.  The notation "s/c" indicates that the activity is self contained and needs no concurrent assignment from the booklet.]


Linear functions

Statistics and probability

Non-linear  functions

Managing money with the exponential function

The logistic function – constrained growth and decay

Note to the Instructor: The above projects and activities have been designed and selected with attention to the underlying functions which describe relationships between variables addressed by the activities.  It is not recommended that time be spent in this course on description of general data sets.  If care is not taken to select data sets whose analysis produces discovery of target course concepts, valuable instructional time may be lost.  It is with this admonition that we link to the following very inclusive sources of data sets:

Want to know more about Problem Based Learning? Check these:


Last Update: 9 Dec 2011