Developing an Instructional Practices Guide for Undergraduate Mathematics

Project No.
PI Name
Diana White
University of Colorado Denver

Abstract 1

Developing an Instructional Practices Guide for Undergraduate Mathematics

Presentation Type
Martha Abell, Georgia Southern University Linda Braddy, Mathematical Association of America Lew Ludwig, Denison University Diana White, University of Colorado Denver


It is now well-established that effectively implemented student-centered instructional practices have a positive impact on student success. Yet a major hindrance to student learning in entry-level STEM courses is the lack of faculty use of student-centered teaching methods. The 2015 CUPM Curriculum Guide to Majors in the Mathematical Sciences provides guidelines and recommendations to help departments effectively address the challenges they face in educating the next generation of STEM professionals. This proposed project will result in a research-based resource for mathematics instructors at all types of higher education institutions. It will be developed by mathematicians and researchers in undergraduate mathematics education working together to ensure that it effectively translates education research into practice.


The major goal is to produce an Instructional Practices Guide for undergraduate mathematics. In addition, we will work to answer the following questions (both in the context of undergraduate mathematics):

Research Question 1: What general pedagogies and/or specific instructional practices have a well-established empirical basis demonstrating their effectiveness (or lack thereof)?

Research Question 2: What general pedagogies and/or specific instructional practices are in need of further research to establish an empirical basis demonstrating their effectiveness (or lack thereof)?


The development of the IP Guide will hinge on an iterative process similar to that used for the MAA Curriculum Guide. Area groups will create reports detailing evidence-based instructional practices and the leads submit them to leadership team. The team will solicit feedback from the mathematical sciences community via focus groups at regional and national conferences, from sister associations, and from the advisory board. We will also establish a Google site (similar to a wiki) where the draft reports are posted, inviting comments from the community as a whole. This opportunity to provide input will be publicized via MAAメs and our sister organizationsメ print and electronic publications. The leadership team will periodically compile the input and send it back to the area groups for incorporation into reports. Updated versions of the reports will be posted as they become available.


The key outcome and deliverable will be an Instructional Practices Guide for Undergraduate Mathematics.

Broader Impacts

Maintaining vibrant undergraduate mathematics programs that both attract and retain students from a variety of backgrounds is crucial not only for mathematics, but for our society as a whole. In spite of tremendous growth in undergraduate enrollments during the latter decades of the 20th century and the increasing need for mathematical sophistication in many careers, the number of majors in the mathematical sciences and other STEM disciplines has not kept pace, but rather has remained relatively constant. Further, the participation of minorities remains low, and while about half of all undergraduate mathematics majors are women, many fewer women than men go on to postgraduate study in mathematics. As such, it is imperative that we develop this proposed Guide as a way to help address these ongoing challenges. For example, studies show that Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) eliminates the �gender gap� that favors males over females in traditional lecture courses by incorporating features such as problem-solving, group work, and oral communication, all of which typically appeal to females and provide a sense of belonging. As a result, females taking IBL mathematics courses, particularly early in college, show increased persistence in moving on to subsequent mathematics courses. IBL has also been shown to boost performance among students with weaker academic backgrounds by providing a supportive environment in which to engage in �productive struggle,� which results in stronger study habits and problem-solving skills for use in subsequent courses (Kogan & Laursen, 2014; Laursen, Hassi, Kogan & Weston, 2014). Much is known about methods for increasing student success in STEM courses, yet a major barrier to progress in improving undergraduate mathematics education continues to be a lack of effective classroom implementation of evidence-based pedagogies. This proposed Guide will serve as a resource for mathematical sciences departments for improving teaching and learning. It will be disseminated electronically on the MAA website and publicized through MAA�s and sister organizations� print and electronic publications. As such, this Guide can impact the entire community of faculty and graduate students teaching undergraduate mathematics.

Unexpected Challenges

None, just starting.


One submitted.