Blogs

“I’ve always been terrible at math.” While common in mainstream American culture, this statement should concern us when coming from a prospective 3 rd grade teacher—someone who bears the responsibility of educating children in a variety of subject areas. Will this negative sentiment be passed down to his students? Will she allot less time to a subject she does not like or understand? Will a child’s creative solution fail to be recognized? We feel everyone can learn to love mathematics if they understand it. If students are given the space to explore and opportunities to share, this platitude may one day become, “I’ve always loved math. It has always made sense ...
My name is Ryan Kasha, and I am a co-PI on an NSF funded grant at Valencia College on infusing active learning in mathematics. One of our goal of this grant is to build and share a repository of active learning lessons for mathematics. I am writing this blog to share this resource beyond my college. I hope you will explore and enjoy this resource. Successful Engagement: Active Learning in Mathematics (SEAL-M) , a 5-year NSF grant project, seeks to deepen community college mathematics faculty members’ understanding of active learning to emphasize knowledge construction leading to student success. Our project is a fun, collaborative way to take your teaching ...
SPECIAL NOTE: This blog has been posted on behalf of a QB@CC colleague, Joseph Esquibel . Joe teaches biology at Lansing Community College in Michigan. Hello! As a biology professor in this QB@CC interdisciplinary network, I’ve seen the impact of interdisciplinary education from a slightly different perspective. I was always interested in adding a numerical and quantitative focus to my teaching. However, it wasn't until I joined this network and worked closely with teams of math and biology faculty that I really reached this goal. My classes feel transformed. It is easy to think of classroom time as a zero-sum game, that time spent on one ...
“When am I ever going to use this?!” Math educators hear this question time and time again. Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges (QB@CC) is a 5-year NSF RCN-UBE funded project aimed at helping math instructors answer this age-old question for their students, especially their biology students who may not recognize the importance of quantitative skills in their chosen discipline. The primary objective of the project is to build a network of math and biology faculty from community colleges around the nation who work together to enhance students’ quantitative skills by creating, publishing, and disseminating open-access cross-curricular materials. Small ...
When we’re teaching a developmental math class, we often have two goals: student engagement and learning. There are many ways to accomplish each. Below is a framework I use when teaching developmental math, but also college-level math, and even professional development. It’s both effective and flexible. Assess – Before starting into objectives, a lesson, or an activity, first find out where your students are and what they need. This can be mentally (Are they stressed? Tired? Overworked?) and/or mathematically (How has the content been lately? Do they need more or less of a particular skill or concept?). Achieving this can happen in many ways, so take ...
One of the benefits of the developmental math course sequence that many institutions (and even states!) have phased out was that students had the opportunity to learn and develop soft skills over the course of multiple semesters before they reached college-level math courses. These skills helped prepare students for a higher level of success in their college-level coursework. In addition, the students who missed crucial content in high school or middle school during the pandemic are now arriving on our college campuses; some of these students have grown accustomed to receiving more flexibility than college faculty used to be willing to hand out. Now, more ...
Stigler and Hierbert (1999) note that teaching is cultural, and that we teach the way we were taught. Foreign born instructors when coming to the United States, may have experienced a “culture shock” which had required them to vary their approaches to teaching mathematics. Likewise, mathematics teachers in the United States, through the process of professional development and studying research, have professionally grown in their teaching practices. Some have experienced this growth also through observing international colleagues and students. We invite you to join our conversation this month with your experiences related to this topic. Sources: ...
I have always loved mathematics and been fascinated by mathematics in nature—from the Fibonacci sequence in the spirals on pinecones and the heads of sunflowers to fractals in trees and coastlines. Over the past few decades, however, I have come to realize that many students like more practical applications than these, such as the mathematics of personal finances and health decisions. Lynn Steen, Bernie Madison, Iddo Gal, Ellen Peters, the MAA’s special interest group of quantitative literacy (SIGMAA-QL), and the National Numeracy Network have opened a new world to me— and consequently to my students! I have learned that quantitative literacy enhances and ...
Quantitative reasoning (QR) is often associated with mathematics and science courses, but it goes beyond those areas. Colleges and universities are integrating QR skills into various academic settings, from the humanities to the arts. In this blog post, we explore how institutions like Wellesley, Millikin, and Carleton are expanding the reach of QR education by offering courses in unconventional disciplines. Wellesley College has a foundational QR requirement, coupled with a Data Literacy (DL) requirement ( https://www.wellesley.edu/qr/requirement ). One of the latter courses is “Network Analysis for Art History,” where students are doing the following: ...
How can digital platforms help us pursue proficiency through students’ engagement? One of IMPACT’s pillars is Proficiency . The National Institution of Health (NIH) proficiency scale describes an individual’s level of proficiency in a particular competency. 1 - Fundamental Awareness (basic knowledge) 2 - Novice (limited experience) 3 - Intermediate (practical application) 4 - Advanced (applied theory) 5 - Expert (recognized authority) In a similar way we think of proficiency in learning a topic, or skill in class. To become proficient means to become an expert on the field. However, mastering the concepts and skills can only ...
In several discussions with members of the Math Intensive Academic Network, we have identified several challenges with the linear algebra courses taught at two-year colleges. These include prerequisite courses, curriculum design and transfer issues. Additionally, advances in technology provide opportunities that were previously unavailable. Some two-year colleges require an advanced prerequisite like multivariate calculus (Parkland College, Monroe Community College), others integral calculus (College of DuPage, College of Southern Nevada, Miami Dade College), and still others differential calculus (Bucks College, Community College of Baltimore County, ...
The Math Intensive Academic Network had another successful conference in Omaha. Our team kicked off the conference with a Themed Session that included presentations from precalculus, calculus, linear algebra, and advanced mathematics. Thanks to presenters Lee Wayand, Keith Nabb, Mike Caparula, and Amber Severson for sharing their insightful innovations and valuable experiences, and appreciation to the fifty plus attendees who eagerly participated. Next year's themed session in Atlanta is titled, "Balancing Technology in Math Intensive Courses." Contact me at bob.cappetta@amatyc.org if you are interested in submitted a proposal for a fifteen-minute presentation ...
When educators reflect on the assessment implemented in their courses, there are many curiosity perspectives that can take shape. For example, the assessment results could lead to a curiosity about why some students were successful and why some students struggled. Or, in other words, was there an inequity in the assessment that privileged a group of students? I have been curious about the format of tests and how each format can provide a barrier for a certain type of student. While some students are more successful with a very structured test format, like timed, seated, and paper, other students experience a high level of anxiety with a structured format and ...
As a math teacher, how often do you hear, “this is the last class I need to graduate” or “I just want to get through this class”? The growth of quiet quitting by employees is something that math instructors have experienced for years in their classes: students performing the minimum amount of work that they can to get through and pass the class. Students frequently attempt to memorize content that they’re required to know. They’ll memorize formulas and steps without any real understanding. They keep trying to memorize more and more until eventually, they reach a tipping point where they can’t keep up and it all comes crashing down. What if instructors could get ...
There are demands to change the precalculus and calculus curricula. Do students still need to learn topics like synthetic division or Descartes’s Rule of Signs? Might it be valuable to increase the use of real data analysis in those courses? As technology evolves, what do students really need to know from the calculus curriculum? Are the techniques of integration as important today as they were a generation ago? What should be the role of infinite series in an evolving curriculum? Since most traditional differential equations problems can be solved immediately with technology, should the course become more theoretical, more applied, or disregarded completely? ...
When am I ever going to use this? How many times have you heard students say, “When am I ever going to use this?” For me, I heard it every semester at least once a semester, in every class I taught. Growing up there was never a question in my mind as to what I intended to be when I grew up. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and my love of math pointed me in that direction. Because I was focused on my one career goal, I truly did not have an answer to the question, “When am I ever going to use this?” The Connecting Industry to Mathematics (CIMI) Grant has answered that question and completely changed the way I approach projects in my courses. What ...
This content was developed by the AMATYC Diversity Dialogues team. Please join AMATYC in celebrating Women’s History month by incorporating into your classroom information about great women mathematicians. Here are a few bios to get you started. Mary Cartwright (1900 – 1993), Mathematician During WWII, British soldiers needed more powerful amplifiers so signals would not become jumbled. This problem was considered critical to winning the war. Mary rose to the challenge. She had a particular skill for combining mathematical concepts together in unusual ways. She and her friend J.E. Littlewood provided the British army with enough information to get ...
AMATYC Celebrates Black History Month By Jon Oaks Growing up, I was often the subject of the stereotype that Asians are good at math. But I would look around me, and hardly anyone looked like me, and none of my teachers were Asian. I didn't have an Asian teacher until college. And even today, as an instructor, sometimes I look around my classroom at my students and around my campus at the others walking around and think to myself, "None of these people look like me." And it never dawned on me why that is until recently when someone told me that Asians are underrepresented among two-year college professors, particularly among two-year college mathematics ...
The following is Written by Marvin L. Bittinger Edited by Marilyn Mays The Many Careers of Marvin L. Bittinger Or Marvin L. Bittinger: The Man Who Revolutionized Publishing for Developmental Math for College This bio traces the mathematics education career of Marvin L. Bittinger. From Manchester College to Ohio State University to Purdue University to a position as Prof of Math Ed at IUPUI. Along the way, I was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at The United States Air Force Academy and the author of numerous math textbooks for Addison/Wesley and Pearson Education. The goal of this bio is to inspire readers to overcome the bumps in life and ...
The Standards Committee 2023 New Year's resolution: To make IMPACT a living document and update AMATYC’s three signature documents; Crossroads, Beyond Crossroads, and IMPACT . Here is a brief description and history of our Signature Documents : Crossroads (1995) The purpose of Crossroads in Mathematics: Standards for Introductory College Mathematics Before Calculus is to address the special circumstances of, establish standards for, and make recommendat ions about two-year college and lower-division mathematics programs below the level of calculus. Three sets of standards for introductory college mathematics are defined in Chapter ...