Making Mathematics Real
Engaging Mathematics makes math more interesting and accessible to students by showing them how it relates to the real world. It especially helps students who struggle with math, who dislike math, or who see no reason why math is important to their lives. By showing these students why math matters, the subject becomes more interesting, meaningful, and accessible.
Engaging Mathematics aims to significantly increase the use of the SENCER model, and other reformative pedagogies, by a national community of mathematics scholars capable of creating, implementing, and sustaining reforms in mathematics education. Over the course of the project, faculty from partner institutions (Dr. Cynthia Kaus and Dr. Rikki Wagstrom of Metropolitan State University, Dr. Mangala Kothari and Dr. Alioune Khoule of LaGuardia Community College, Dr. John Zobitz of Augsburg College, Dr. Tony Dunlop and Dr. Victor Padron of Normandale Community College, Dr. John Nardo and Dr. Lynn Gieger of Oglethorpe University, Dr. B�rbara Gonz�lez (now at Hofstra University), Ms. Mary Williams, and Ms. Cathy Evins of Roosevelt University, and Dr. Frank Wattenberg of the United States Military Academy) will enhance existing courses and develop new courses, modules, and curricula for future use, to be taught at the institutions at which they were developed and elsewhere.
The goals of the project are being achieved through our partner faculty�s course development. Faculty members are also producing teaching manuals that others can use to implement Engaging Math courses in their own classrooms. Faculty development workshops are held at Metropolitan State University and LaGuardia Community College to increase the number of teachers who adopt Engaging Math curricula. Webinars are also planned to disseminate project work and to train an even wider audience in Engaging Mathematics teaching methods.
Teaching manuals for two courses at Metropolitan State University are in the final stages of packaging. Once finalized, they will be disseminated on the project website and through MAA channels. Additional teaching manuals from the other Engaging Math institutions will begin to be reviewed this December. Courses developed by Engaging Math faculty have already begun to be taught at other institutions, and this practice will increase in the coming months.
This project has the potential to impact a wide audience, including math majors, non-math majors and teachers at two- and four-year colleges and universities, and community partners such as nonprofits and cooperatives whom our faculty are working with. As stated above, all students who take these courses are impacted by the project, but students who struggle with math, who dislike math, or who see no reason why math is important to their lives benefit most. By showing these students why math matters, the subject becomes more interesting, meaningful, and accessible. Dissemination has been done largely through the project website and Twitter account, and through local and national SENCER and disciplinary meetings. The MAA will help publicize the project�s teaching manuals once they are ready.
Dr. Cindy Kaus (2014). Using SoTL to Assess the Outcomes of Teaching Statistics through Civic Engagement. Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Mathematics Jacqueline M. Dewar, Curtis D. Bennett. The Mathematical Association of America. 99. Status = PUBLISHED; Acknowledgement of Federal Support = Yes ; ISBN: 978-0-88385-193-7.
Dr. Rikki Wagstrom (2014). Using SoTL Practices to Drive Curriculum Development. Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Mathematics Jacqueline M. Dewar, Curtis D. Bennett. The Mathematical Association of America. 191. Status = PUBLISHED; Acknowledgement of Federal Support = Yes ; ISBN: 978-0-88385-193-7.
Leadership Lessons Learned from 15 Years of Work in the SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) Program
SENCER empowers students, faculty, and academic leaders to improve learning and strengthen civic capacity. The SENCER approach teaches through complex, capacious, contemporary and contested civic challenges to basic STEM knowledge and methods. Members of the SENCER community from over 600 colleges and universities, and now informal education venues, have designed, implemented, and assessed courses and programs that (1) respond to student interests, (2) are framed within complex contexts of civic consequence, (3) help students learn key content, processes and skills in one or more discipline, (4) intentionally match progressive pedagogies to clear learning objectives, (5) encourage discovery of new knowledge and new connections, (6) enable students to consider how to apply knowledge, and (7) prepare students for future self-directed learning, civic engagement, and responsible action as conscientious citizens in a democracy.
In the current phase of SENCER, our goals include expanding participation to reach a transformative scale; increasing the intensity and scope of follow-up activities to institutionalize reform; disseminate scholarship, materials, and other resources to strengthen connections with the wider education community; broaden assessment to measure and promote enduring understandings, and engage in formal planning to assure sustainability and growth. To these ends, we have reached more than 150 new institutions since 2012 and expanded outreach on campuses where SENCER leaders already reside. The community is supported by the annual SENCER Summer Institute, regional meetings, a journal, additional publications, and small grants to support course development, redesign, and/or assessment. Leadership has also developed partnerships with external organization to expand program impact and allow for new areas of growth. Webinars have been developed, new Journal issues, models, and backgrounders published. A collaboration between SENCER, the College Board, and the SENCER-SALG is underway to measure enduring understandings, and will have results to report within the year. Surveys and interviews have been conducted to explore sustainability and growth options, and a serious strategic planning process has been conducted since 2012 to ensure the continued quality and development of the community.
In SENCER, leadership has been understood as a democratic and non-hierarchical process, with individuals acting in the context of their own immediate sphere of influence or authority (a course or the classroom or lab). Reform that advances ﾓone course at a timeﾔ may be too slow for some tastes or times, but, for us, it has had the virtue of being both durable and extensible. These bottom up improvements tended to ripple and create larger scaled changes over time. What began as a desire to change courses, resulted in changing the practice of teaching itself. Thus individuals acting as agents of their own personal change become the leaders, inspirers, mentors of broader change, including changing, among other things, the conditions under which others develop their teaching and learning practices. Leadership development is modeled through the following approaches:
(1) Aim for goals that are truly worthy of being achieved.
(2) Be visionary, without being delusional.
(3) Provide ideals, not instructions.
(4) Be inclusive when thinking about developing leaders.
(5) Be ready to have your ideas and plans changed by others.
(6) Make room for new leaders, new ideas, and new initiatives.
Contributions are also publicly recognized through programs including the SENCER Leadership Fellows and William E. Bennett Team and Individual Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science. A new category to exemplary regional and multi-institutional collaborations was added in 2015 to acknowledge a growing area of challenging work.
SENCER is noted to increase student skill, confidence, and interest in STEM, especially in women and those underrepresented in the disciplines. SENCER also influences basic teaching practice, impacting instruction beyond one course and students pursuing either STEM or non-STEM majors. We have created a vibrant community that shares best practices, innovates to improve education outcomes, and regularly pursues interdisciplinary collaborations. Deliverables include the SENCER model series, backgrounder papers, Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, the annual SENCER Summer Institute, frequent regional symposia, expanded initiatives in formal-informal education collaborations, partnerships with community based organizations, books, and webinars. Expanded webinar series, a collaboration with the College Board and the SENCER-SALG, new issues of the Journal, and additional publications are planned.
The broader impacts are the effects on the practice of teaching, in addition to the positive improvements in student STEM skill, interest, and confidence. In changing teaching practice, the engagement of students extends beyond the course or program an educator attributes to SENCER to all of their interactions with students, work with colleagues, and mentoring of graduate students or early career faculty. As the program has expanded, members of the community have increasingly taken on leadership roles in their institutions, meaning that the approach of connecting course content to civic issues and fostering of leadership and community extends to departments, tenure/promotion/hiring processes and entire institutions.