Equity and the Rehumanization of Undergraduate Mathematics at the Classroom, Department, Institution, and Professional Levels
This year’s equity working group will focus on responding to calls to shift focus toward rehumanizing (Gutiérrez, 2018) undergraduate mathematics education. This shift places human beings (as individuals and groups) at the center of mathematics rather than acting as if the discipline is free from the influence of politics and human cultures. Rehumanizing mathematics education considers returning to mathematical practices that have been an important part of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities’ historical or cultural experiences. This framing can also be useful for working with those who are members of one or more other minoritized groups (e.g. based on religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, social and economic class, or ability status). As working group participants, we will delve into deeper discussions of the dimensions of rehumanizing mathematics, and how this relates to current and needed research efforts in the context of post-secondary mathematics education. Furthermore, we will draw on the lens of problems of practice (e.g. Grossman, Compton, Igra, Ronfeldt, Shahan, & Williamson, 2009; Horn & Little, 2010) to engage questions and share resources related to ways in which rehumanization can inform our day-to-day work as mathematicians and educators at the classroom, departmental, institutional, and professional levels. This working group is designed for both RUME participants who engage in research focused on issues of equity (e.g. creators of equity research), and for those interested in approaching their work in more equitable ways (e.g. consumers of equity research). The session will include presentations of ongoing research projects with time for discussion through the lenses of rehumanization and problems of practice. Additionally, the session will allocate time for discussion of problems of practice identified by participants. This latter portion of the session will focus on theorization of the problems identified through multiple perspectives, with considerations of the proposed strategies for addressing these problems, and discussion of the affordances and constraints of those strategies for various groups. Future investigations and explorations of these problems of practice may become the focus of collaborations among attendees. Opportunities for collaboration and mentorship will be encouraged through the discussions of research and practice facilitated in the context of the working group.
Calculus I Concept Inventory Development
This working group will begin initial work on development of a reliable, well-validated concept inventory for Calculus I. Participants interested in contributing ideas and/or in continuing participation in the concept inventory development process after the working group completes, are welcome. The working group will begin with presentations on concept inventory development by Drs. Marilyn Carlson from Arizona State University, Matt Thomas from Ithaca College, and Mike Oehrtman from Oklahoma State University. Following these talks, participants will begin the work of developing an appropriate conceptual framework for a Calculus Concepts Assessment (CCA) and identify exemplary research to inform each element of the conceptual framework. Time will then be spent making initial decisions about question format. Following these discussions, participants will create a timeline for continuing work on the CCA.
Improving Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Geometry Courses for Secondary Teachers
This working group builds on last year’s working group entitled Improving Teaching and Learning in Undergraduate Geometry Courses for Secondary Teachers to bring together researchers and practitioners invested in geometry instruction at the college level. We will share updates from the GeT: A Pencil community, an emerging inter-institutional system for collaborating on the improvement of geometry courses for secondary teachers. The community is one product of the GeT Support project (funded by NSF) which aims at supporting instructors in improving undergraduate geometry courses (GeT stands for Geometry for Teachers) as one lever to increase the capacity for geometry instruction at the secondary level. GeT Support draws inspiration from the networked improvement communities approach (Bryk, et al., 2015) positioning our research group as a network hub responsible for gathering, analyzing, and sharing data with the larger community of instructors.
Research on Community College Mathematics
The goal of this working group is to bring together researchers who focus on teaching and learning in the unique and significant context community college mathematics. Roughly half of all U.S. undergraduates, college graduates, and current mathematics majors attend community colleges. These students are more likely to belong to groups that have traditionally been both underrepresented in mathematics and that are at higher risk of not earning a credential: they are often the first in their families to attend college, they tend to be older, have work and family responsibilities, and have weak pre-college preparation. At the same time, mathematics outcomes for these students are significantly more vulnerable—the majority of these students require additional supports to successfully complete a credit-bearing college mathematics course. There is a significant need for research in this domain of mathematics education research that overlaps research in both K-12 and RUME settings, but that has its own unique questions. Supported through past working group sessions at RUME (2012-2019) and committee work within AMATYC (2009-2019), a growing group (from 6 to more than 30 since 2009) has been collaborating to advance a national agenda and create a web of community college mathematics education research. Their projects have been funded, some in collaborative proposals, and with ongoing dissemination efforts. The work from last year resulted in at least 18 submissions to a special issue of the MathAMATYC educator that were the result of a call to the network generated through the Working Group. We propose to leverage the RUME working group session to continue to grow the community of community college mathematics faculty, university research faculty, and doctoral students working to develop and disseminate research on and with community college mathematics stakeholders. We welcome new working group participants who are seeking to conduct or are conducting research in mathematics teaching and learning with community colleges and are interested in advancing this agenda through collaborative or coordinated research projects and focused plans for the dissemination of research. In particular, this year we will focus on the following three topics: specific advocacy plans for community college mathematics research, including drafting further research commentaries and/or discussing unique issues surrounding community college mathematics research with federal funding agencies; developing specific mentoring, networking, or other support plans for mathematics education doctoral students with an interest in community colleges (including current community college faculty); developing further future conferences or special issues focused on community college mathematics research.
Education Research at the Interface of Mathematics and Science: Perspectives on Quantitative Modeling
Quantitative modeling is an essential piece of many STEM fields (such as physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.), as it serves as a tool with which novices and experts make sense of the physical world. Modeling, however, is a broad term and is often used to describe a wide variety of reasoning. To better understand how students are using mathematical modeling in mathematics contexts and to engage with the world around them, it is important to first consider how modeling is approached by students and researchers across disciplines. This workshop aims to provide a space to discuss the differences between disciplinary definitions of mathematical modeling and its applications. We encourage attendees to bring with them their perspectives on modeling to enhance our discussion. As part of this conversation, we will present a sample of theoretical frameworks that have been developed to describe student behavior when engaged in mathematical modeling, including symbolic forms and conceptual blending. We will then allow time to examine how these frameworks are applied in various mathematics-based fields. Our objective is to provide space to explore how modeling is viewed and used across contexts, and therefore facilitate cross-discipline collaboration and exploration into further research.
RUME Research in the Context of Mathematics Tutoring Centers
Mathematics tutoring centers are common in the United States of America (Johnson & Hnasen, 2015), but there is not a lot of research about mathematics learning in this context. Our colleagues in the UK have called for more research evaluating the effectiveness of math centers outside of the UK, Ireland, and Australia (Matthews, et al, 2012). This group has answered that call. Formed in 2017, this working group has addressed many different issues related to math centers. We have met at the RUME conference for several years and at two NSF Funded workshops (NSF #2645086). Members of this group surveyed 75 math centers in the United States to investigate their day-to-day operations (Mills, Rickard, & Guest, submitted). We defined dimensions that we believe are important in evaluating math centers (Byerley, et al, 2019). We collected and analyzed observation data of authentic tutoring sessions at multiple universities. From this corpus of data we reported that tutors tend to carry the mathematical load (Burks & James, 2018), tutors can decenter at different levels and build upon student thinking (Mills, Johns, & Ryals, 2019), and tutors can help students know-to act in different situations (Ryals, Johns & Mills, 2019). We catalogued reasons that students attend or do not attend tutoring (Tinsley, Rawlins, Moore-Russo, Savic, 2018). We analyzed the social structures in math centers and how the tutors and “regulars” create a sense of community (Bjorkman & Nickerson, 2019). We have begun the theoretical work of defining Mathematical Knowledge for Tutoring (James & Burks, 2019). This working group meets weekly online and has formed a mailing list containing more than 80 math center directors and researchers and have a shared Google Drive in which we share resources like tutor training materials and evaluation reports. During the 2018-2019 school year and Summer 2019, we had 43 individual members who attended online meetings 298 times. We are very welcoming and love having new members. Join this working group if you are interested in student learning in out-of-classroom contexts, if you are involved in the math center at your university, or if you would like to see how your research results might apply to math centers.
Research on College Mathematics Instructor Professional Growth
This long-standing working group focuses on research on the professional development and growth of college mathematics instructors regardless of their level of experience or expertise, though many current members have a particular interest in the professional growth of novice college teachers (e.g., graduate student teaching assistants). The group meets online periodically throughout the year and face-to-face at the RUME conference annually. The group’s goals, historically and currently, continue to drive the focus of annual meetings. Working Group meeting time is structured to bring in researchers new to the field through a variety of scholarly activities: explore and discuss the literature, give and receive feedback on research projects that are in progress, brainstorm potential collaborations and mentoring relationships for both long- and short-term studies, and continued discussion of issues central to the field and ways to address them. Participants in this group include researchers in all areas of the professional preparation, induction, and development of college mathematics instructors, from across institutional types. Research areas include, but are not limited to, factors that shape instructional practices, experiences of instructors as they attend to student thinking in their instruction, and changes in instructional orientations, planning, and practices as teaching experiences accumulate. Researchers need not present their own work to participate in the group or to provide feedback to others. Dissemination from the group is broad, from publications aimed at education research audiences to practice-oriented college mathematics instructor and mathematician communities. What drives the working group is meeting the needs of the group. Regular online meetings during the year sustain collaborations and communication among group participants. Working group facilitators have been involved in various related groups (e.g., MAA-AMS Joint Committee on Teaching Assistants and Part-Time Faculty, MAA Committee on Professional Development), have conducted grant-funded research in the area, and have presented at the Conference on RUME previously.
Statistics and Data Science Education
This working group solicits individuals interested in learning about and pursuing research on the teaching and learning of undergraduate statistics and data science. This includes research interests pertaining to, but not limited to, the theoretical analysis and/or empirical investigation of introductory and advanced courses in the fields of Statistics and Data Science and pre-service teacher courses oriented towards these fields. Further, we encourage individuals interested in problems spaces shared between the undergraduate mathematics, statistics, and data science communities (e.g., function, probability, modeling, etc.) to attend the working group. With the growing enrollments in Statistics and Data Science courses and the increasing demand for a data-skilled workforce, there is a need for research into how students think and learn about concepts and practices in these fields. Often, researchers interested in these areas are isolated. This working group provides a means for these researchers to come together to share their knowledge and ideas, while building a lasting community. Such collaborations may inform the practices and research agendas in all communities. As this is our third year, we will provide updates on what individual members have been doing over the course of the past year. We will also present the current state and direction of the group’s ongoing projects. Additionally, our plan is to establish a structure for the group in terms of goals/purpose. Join us as our community grows. We are a small and supportive group and want to help anyone with an interest in statistics education.
Systemic Departmental Change in RUME
While impressive progress has been made to understand the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics, leveraging what is known to catalyze change in mathematics departments remains a challenge. To address this need, this working group will provide a space for research in undergraduate mathematics education (RUME) scholars to attend deeply to contextual and cultural issues of departments, institutions, and society more broadly, and how they may inhibit or support meaningful change in mathematics departments. Within this space we will share models and frameworks; lessons learned from practical experience; and feedback on scholarly work and works-in-progress. The group has two main aims: 1) To understand how scholarship in RUME can contribute to a generalizable understanding of how change works in higher education, and 2) how research in educational change can be used to support the RUME community to have a greater impact. This group will provide informal and sustained mentorship to its members who wish to understand more deeply the scholarship around departmental change. As appropriate, we also invite and will connect with Disciplinary-Based Education Researchers in other STEM fields, to build cross-disciplinary collaborations in the pursuit of educational change.