For many years, great concern have been expressed about the excessive failure rate of calculus in many universities around the world. Students’ poor performance in calculus was well documented in previous studies (Gynnild et al., 2005; Basaruddin et al., 2003; Zhang, 2003; Suresh, 2002; Douglas, 1998; Culotta, 1992; Lax, 1990). Most of the studies reported that over a third or probably half of the students enrolled in calculus course(s) each year failed the courses.
Numerous studies had been conducted, focusing on the difficulty in acquiring a good working knowledge of calculus (Dreyfus, 1991; Madison & Hart, 1990; Cipra, 1988; NCTM & MAA, 1987; Orton, 1983a; 1983b) and on the influencing factors that contributed to the under-achievements in calculus (Tang et al., 2010, Chen et al., 2002; Tucker & Leitzel, 1995; Orton, 1979). As many problems exist with regards to calculus, there were many national attempts towards calculus reform (Smith III & Star, 2007; Hurley et al., 1999; Narasimhan, 1993; Ferrini-Mundy & Graham, 1991).
However, the calculus reform had sparked a backlash (Wilson, 1997; Cipra, 1996) and no consensus has been reached on the problems of reducing the failure rate and the method of teaching conceptual understanding of calculus (Tang et al., 2010; Yudariah & Roselainy, 2001; Thompson, 1994; Douglas, 1986).