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MathAMATYC Educator September 2011
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MathAMATYC Educator

A refereed publication of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges

Editor: Pete Wildman, Spokane Falls CC
Production Manager: Jim Roznowski, Delta C

Volume 3, Number 1, September, 2011 Issue
Earlier and Later Issues

AMATYC Members can view entire articles of this issue by
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cover

This Issue’s Features

Statistics in Action: The Story of a Successful Service-Learning Project

Mary DeHart, Sussex County CC and Jim Ham, Delta College

Capitalizing on Basic Brain Processes in Developmental Algebra – Part 3

Edward D. Laughbaum, The Ohio State University

The Push to Pass: Merits of Intervention in Precalculus Mathematics

Matthew Pascal, Point Park University

Triple Play: From De Morgan to Stirling to Euler to Maclaurin to Stirling

Sid Kolpas, Delaware County CC

The Georgia Perimeter College MESA Program: Propelling STEM Students to Success

Kouok K. Law, Georgia Perimeter College

 

MathAMATYC Educator's Departments

Use This Now

Look Before You Leap: Examples from Our Classroom

Russell Euler, Northwest Missouri State University and Jawad Sadek, Northwest Missouri State University

Introducing Functions of Several Variables into Lower-Division Mathematics

Sheldon P. Gordon, Farmingdale State College of New York

If Mathematics Were an Animal, What Would It Be and Why?

Victor Odafe, Bowling Green State University

 

Walking Beyond Crossroads

The Road to the Future of Developmental Mathematics

Jack Rotman, Lansing CC

When am I ever going to use this?

A Make It Real Approach

Frank C. Wilson, Chandler-Gilbert CC

The Problem Section

Take the Challenge

Joe Browne, Onondaga CC

 

mary

Mary DeHart is a Professor of Mathematics at Sussex County Community College, where she has been a full-time faculty member since 1995. In 2005 she received the NISOD Award, and the SCCC President’s Award for her development and implementation of service-learning projects for statistics students. Mary is a former President of MATYCNJ, the New Jersey affiliate of AMATYC. mdehart@sussex.edu

jim

Jim Ham is a professor of mathematics at Delta College where he has taught for 17 years.  He has been actively involved in AMATYC, serving on the 2006 Beyond Crossroads project, TheRightStuff project, the Placement and Assessment Committee, and as Website Coordinator; in 2007, he received the AMATYC Teaching Excellence award.  Jim is also a former president of MichMATYC. jaham@delta.edu

Statistics in Action: The Story of a Successful Service-Learning Project

Mary DeHart, Sussex County CC
Jim Ham, Delta College

Abstract
The purpose of this article is to share the stories of an Introductory Statistics service-learning project in which students from both New Jersey and Michigan design and conduct phone surveys that lead to publication in local newspapers; to discuss the pedagogical benefits and challenges of the project; and to provide information for those who might like to start similar projects.
                                 

 



Ed Laughbaum is an emeritus professor of mathematics from Columbus State Community College, and recently retired as the director of the Ohio Early Mathematics Placement Testing Program and the College Short Course Program in the mathematics department at The Ohio State University. Ed has authored 60 publications and has given over 250 presentations at state, national, and international conferences in over 20 countries. He has won numerous teaching awards including the 2010 Mathematics Excellence Award from the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.

Capitalizing on Basic Brain Processes in Developmental Algebra – Part 3 

Edward D. Laughbaum, The Ohio State University

Abstract:
In Part Three, the author reviews the basic ideas presented in Parts One and Two while arguing why the traditional equation-solving developmental algebra curricula is not a good choice for implementing neural response strategies presented in the first two parts. He continues by showing that the developmental algebra student audience is simply mathematically underprepared, and that developmental programs have not risen to the task of educating them successfully.

The article continues by discussing various "traditional thinking” solutions to the developmental algebra issues that have not changed the matriculation or graduation rates in 40 years.
In preparing for his "solution,” he discusses brain issues that are contributing factors to the current situation. The article ends with a brain-based proposal of using function as an underlying theme to develop the the neural responses desired to improve understanding and long-term memory through:

  • embedded connections among function and algebraic concepts and procedures,
  • visualizations used daily and early,
  • meaning and connections added through contextual situations, and
  • pattern building to a generalization implemented through graphing calculator guided-discovery activities.

matt

Matt Pascal earned his Ph.D from American University's Department of Mathematics and Statistics in 2006. While completing his degree, he was a member of the faculty at Northern Virginia CC. Since then he has been a member of the faculties of American, Towson, and West Virginia Universities before taking his current position at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. His research interests have reached into education legislation, equity in mathematics learning, and neuro-psychological connections to mathematics achievement, but his true interest is being in the classroom with students, teaching effectively.

The Push to Pass: Merits of Intervention in Precalculus Mathematics

Matthew Pascal, Point Park University

Intervening for Success
A portion of all students in introductory or developmental undergraduate mathematics courses find themselves at an unfortunate tipping point: the border between passing and failing. These high-stakes courses often come with high enrollments, and a recurring problem: high failure rates.  The measure of success used at the author’s institution, the DFW rate, is the portion of students enrolled in the course who fail to earn a C or better for their final grade. A low DFW rate is considered to be indicative of a successful course. In particular, Math 128: Trigonometry is known among department faculty and administrators (and probably students) by an unsettling DFW rate routinely as high as 40%. This statistic applies to more than a decade of archived course data in both spring and fall terms at various times of days with at least six different instructors, removing these variables as likely causes of poor performance. The chart below shows that consistently poor performance.

sid

Dr. Kolpas has taught the past 40 years at the Junior High School, High School, and College levels.  The past 20 years, he has been a Professor of Mathematics at Glendale Community College, Glendale CA.  In 2010, he was selected to receive the Hayward Award for Excellence In Education by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. Starting fall 2011, he will start a new career at Delaware County Community College in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Triple Play: From De Morgan to Stirling to Euler to Maclaurin to Stirling

Sid Kolpas, Delaware County CC

Augustus De Morgan (1806-1871) was a significant Victorian Mathematician who made contributions to Mathematics History, Mathematical Recreations, Mathematical Logic, Calculus, and Probability and Statistics.  He was an inspiring Mathematics professor who influenced many of his students to join the profession.  There have been a number of articles supporting his choice as the best Mathematics professor of the 19th Century (A. Rice, What makes a great mathematics teacher?  The Case of Augustus De Morgan, Amer. Math. Monthly 106 (1999), pp. 534-552).

law

Kouok K. Law is Professor of Mathematics at Georgia Perimeter College, Clarkston Campus, Georgia. He has a Master Degree from the State University of New-York at Albany, and a Ph. D. from the University of Washington, Seattle. He has taught a wide range of mathematics courses, and he is now concentrating on teaching
Calculus with technology. He is presently the Director of the MESA Program at Georgia Perimeter College.

The Georgia Perimeter College MESA Program: Propelling STEM Students to Success

Kouok K. Law, Georgia Perimeter College

From 2006 to 2008, while taking courses at Georgia Perimeter College (GPC), Joel Toussaint had to work two jobs, one was at night. "Those two years were truly the hardest in my whole life,” he said. Now, he has graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Mechanical Engineering, and he has been admitted to Graduate School in Mechanical Engineer there. His plan for the future is to get his Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering. He said he intends to "create new forms of technologies that will be used to better human life.”
           

euler

Russell Euler is a professor of mathematics at Northwest Missouri State University where he has taught since 1982. He enjoys volunteering for construction projects at his church.

jawad

Jawad Sadek is professor of mathematics at Northwest Missouri State University. His interests include Complex Analysis and helping his students discover the joy of mathematical research.

Look Before You Leap: Examples from Our Classroom

Russell Euler, Northwest Missouri State University
Jawad Sadek, Northwest Missouri State University

In this paper we present some problems that we assign to our students.  These examples share a common theme:  "look before you leap”.  So many standard procedures are drilled into mathematics students today that they tend to forget to stand back and look at the problem from a fresh perspective. The six examples we give below are from precalculus and calculus I courses.

sheldon

Shelly Gordon is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Johnson Professor of Mathematics at Farmingdale State College. He has been deeply involved in efforts to revitalize the undergraduate curriculum for most of his career and has authored more than 180 papers and a dozen textbooks and monograph volumes.

Introducing Functions of Several Variables into Lower-Division Mathematics

Sheldon P. Gordon, Farmingdale State College of New York

The MAA’s committee on Curriculum Renewal Across the First Two Years (CRAFTY) has been conducting a project to determine the current mathematical needs of the partner disciplines.  The first round of this Curriculum Foundations project [1] involved having leading educators from 17 math intensive disciplines participate in workshops to discuss and formulate recommendations to the mathematics community on what their students need to bring out of lower division mathematics classes. A second round of workshops involving additional disciplines was held recently and their reports will appear shortly [2].

victor

Victor Odafe is an associate professor of mathematics and the current chair of the Natural & Social Sciences Department at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) Firelands, Huron, OH 44839. His professional interests include alternative assessment practices and use of mathematics cases in mathematics classrooms.  Victor has been the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award  from BGSU Firelands.

If Mathematics Were an Animal, What Would It Be and Why?

Victor Odafe, Bowling Green State University

The mission of the community colleges has expanded to include teacher preparation as well as preparation for university transfer, post-secondary liberal arts education, developmental education, and practical training for specific jobs.  Teacher education has therefore become an important component of the mission of two-year college mathematics departments.

jack

Jack has been at Lansing Community College since 1973, with a focus on "developmental” mathematics, and has an MA from Michigan State University.  He has been active in the state and national professional organizations for almost 30 years, with over 20 presentations at AMATYC conferences.  Jack has contributed to the AMATYC standards (both "Crossroads” and "Beyond Crossroads”), and has chaired the AMATYC Developmental Mathematics Committee twice for a total term of 9 years.  Currently, he is leading a project to re-invent developmental mathematics – the AMATYC "New Life for Developmental Mathematics” project, and is involved as a content liaison for the "Pathways Grants” of the Carnegie Foundations for the Advancement of Teaching.  These efforts in developmental mathematics are seen as part of a larger need within undergraduate mathematics to revitalize the curriculum.

The Road to the Future of Developmental Mathematics

Jack Rotman, Lansing CC

We want to improve our developmental mathematics program, and we have heard a lot about redesign.  What should we do?

Does that intro sound familiar?  ‘Redesign’ is a commonly used word, almost to the point of becoming a cliché.   Our email inbox is flooded with various people’s definition of ‘redesign’ … though many of them focus exclusively on the delivery of instruction.  What should a professional redesign effort examine?

frank

Frank is the Math Division Chair at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Educators worldwide use his activities and textbooks focused on helping learners make sense of mathematics and discover how to use it in everyday life. Contact Frank at  frank@makeitreallearning.com

A Make It Real Approach

Frank C. Wilson, Chandler-Gilbert CC

Download Activity and Solutions

A few years ago, I was discussing with a colleague my passion for using real world contexts in teaching mathematics. He asked, "Why does it matter if you use real-world data if the mathematics you do is the same?” I have thought a lot about his question. When he used the term "mathematics” he was talking about computations and procedures. But isn’t mathematics more than that?

The Problem Section

Welcome to the Problem Section. We will strive to provide several interesting and usually challenging problems for you to consider in each issue. Content will be mathematics and puzzles connected in some way to the mathematics we teach in the two-year college. Readers are invited (encouraged!) to submit problem proposals (with solution) for possible inclusion in this column. We also encourage readers to submit solutions to the problems posed here; we will publish the best or most interesting in a future issue.

Send all correspondence to Joe Browne at brownej@sunyocc.edu or at Mathematics Department, Onondaga Community College, Syracuse NY 13215.

The Problem Section is assembled by Fary Sami (at Harford Community College, MD) and Tracey Clancy, Kathy Cantone, Garth Tyszka, and Joe Browne (editor) (at Onondaga Community College, NY).




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