TPSE eNews #4

Have you been following TPSE’s work and wondering how you can get involved? Please read on; you’ll find opportunities to join webinars, participate in online discussion forums, contribute to a report, attend a workshop, and more.

Meeting report:
Western Regional Meeting on Graduate Education in Mathematics

At TPSE’s inaugural meeting on Graduate Education, held at the University of Southern California on September 14-15, 2019, participants had the opportunity to explore ways in which graduate mathematics programs can better prepare students seeking careers not just in academia, but also in business, industry, and government. Over the course of two days, institutional stakeholders shared concerns and opinions, engaged in strategic dialogue related to changing student demographics and workforce demands, and talked with TPSE leadership about how to turn those conversations into action. 

Four primary areas of interest emerged and became the focus of small-group breakout discussions: career paths, mentoring, diversity and inclusion, and the evolution of graduate education. Discussion highlights, including recommendations for possible next steps, are detailed in the meeting summary here.

A second meeting on Graduate Education is being planned for spring of 2020 at the University of  Michigan.

Upcoming Data Science Webinar:
Everything a President/Chancellor/Provost/Dean Needs to Know about Data Science Education

In the last issue of TPSE eNews, we reported on the establishment of the Mountain Regional Network in Data Science Education. That group has agreed to open its next webinar, which will be led by Nicholas Horton (Amherst College) and Roxy Peck (California Polytechnic State University), to all interested members of the TPSE community. The webinar will take place on Monday, November 25th, 2019, at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time (2:00 PT, 4:00 CT, 5:00 ET). It will be recorded, and a link to the recording will be posted on the TSPE website. For details and to register, please click here.

From Advisers to Actors:
The TPSE MAG Gets to Work

Established in 2016 as an advisory body to the TPSE board, the 40-member Mathematics Advisory Group (MAG) has been taking on an increasingly active role. The MAG has been divided into subgroups corresponding to the four TPSE priorities, with each subgroup co-led by two MAG members.

The Teaching Strategies and Practices (TSP) subgroup is leading the way in terms of community engagement. Co-leaders Nancy Sattler and Ron Buckmire write:

The TSP working group has met twice via web conference to discuss the TPSE priority for TSP: Studying innovative teaching practices, including the use of technologies, and advocating for adoption of those that show promise of improving learning outcomes (in collaboration with Ithaka S+R). The group has created four discussion threads on the TPSE Discussion Forum for the following questions:

  • Metrics for Success: What does success look like and how would we know it had been achieved?
  • Evidence-Based Teaching Practices: What are the existing mechanisms to support evidence-based teaching/learning practices and what obstacles exist to scaling their impact?
  • Taking Advantage of Existing & Innovative Structures: What structures can we (TPSE MAG Teaching Practices and Strategies working group) take advantage of and how can we discover what new innovative structures are out there now?
  • Use of Technology: How does the use of technology (quantitative techniques, web-based tools, social media, computation) inform what we want students to learn and how can we teach it?

We welcome your participation in the ongoing online discussion and in our regular meetings. The next Zoom meeting of TSP is scheduled for Monday, November 25 (11am PST, noon MST, 1pm CST and 2pm EST); click here to join at that time. 

The Upper Division Pathways (UDP) subgroup also encourages your involvement. According to co-leaders Rick Cleary and Bill Velez:

The group is developing plans to encourage Mathematics Departments to develop approaches that will allow more students access to higher level mathematics. These plans were discussed with a diverse group of mathematicians in a lively video conference call on October 22. There was general agreement among this group that Mathematics Departments have been generally slow, or in some cases reluctant, to recognize the benefits of having pathways to upper division mathematics that emphasize applied mathematics in general, and data science in particular. Institutions where the mathematics major is designed with a primary goal of preparing students for graduate study in mathematics is not likely to attract students. More importantly, this approach does not meet the societal need for more graduates ready to enter technical jobs in the workforce, and it does little to increase the diversity of students in our programs.  

We know that some departments are already having great success in producing many majors who succeed in careers outside academia, or who succeed in graduate school in many fields other than mathematics. We also know that there are departments with innovative curricula that provide new pathways to study sophisticated mathematics and statistics topics. These programs typically introduce students to applications in discrete mathematics or data science, sometimes before, or even instead of, a traditional calculus sequence. We hope TPSE can serve to promote these innovations, encourage more departments to emulate these programs, and encourage faculty development that makes growth in the major sustainable. 

Our next steps will be to promote some of the already successful departments that have led in recruiting students, designing curriculum, and connecting with employers, and to find mechanisms to spread these successes to more schools. We will be organizing a gathering at the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Denver to take next steps. Anyone interested in participating should contact either or both UDP leaders: Rick Cleary and Bill Velez.

The work of the other two TPSE MAG subgroups – Lower-Division Pathways and Graduate Education – will be featured in a future eNews.

From Our Partners

New report from Ithaka S+R
Aligning Many Campuses and Instructors Around a Common Adaptive Learning Courseware in Introductory Statistics

Two-and-a-half years ago, we reported on a Gates Foundation grant to Ithaka S+R to "develop, test, and scale new models for entry-level math instruction" in collaboration with TPSE and other partners. The outcome of that study, a report titled Aligning Many Campuses and Instructors around a Common Adaptive Learning Courseware in Introductory Statistics: Lessons from a Multi-Year Pilot in Maryland, was published last week and is available here. Commentary from some of the study participants will be posted on the Ithaka S+R blog.

Dana Center seeks input
Co-Requisite Supports within the Calculus Sequence

Does your institution offer co-requisite supports within the Calculus sequence? If not, are you familiar with any institutions that do? The Dana Center is currently preparing a report on co-requisite supports for Calculus, and they would like to learn from you about the details of your program. Details here.

Dana Center design workshop, January 2020
Implementing, Scaling, and Refining Co-Requisite Mathematics Courses

This two-day design workshop will give teams the opportunity to collaborate, engage with research, dig into course design and create a campus-wide plan of action. Taking place January 23-25, 2020, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the workshop is not tied to any specific curriculum but rather helps to provide actionable guidance for building successful, sustainable approaches to co-requisite course design. The workshop is for those just beginning to think about co-requisite courses as well as those who are refining and scaling. Details here.