New Engaging Mathematics Teaching Manual Explores the Calculus of Milkweed and Monarchs

New Engaging Mathematics Teaching Manual Explores the Calculus of Milkweed and Monarchs

Dr. Rikki Wagstrom, an Engaging Mathematics Institutional Partner and Associate Professor of Mathematics at Metropolitan State University, published a teaching manual containing two modules for use in either a standard Calculus I-II sequence or a one-semester applied calculus survey course. The first module, Calculus Exploration 1: Rates of Change, explores declining milkweed abundance in Iowa crop fields and the implications for monarch butterflies. The second module, Calculus Explorations 2: Definite Integrals, explores monarch reproduction, a crucial factor for survival of the species. Rikki’s manual builds upon her previous work that integrates sustainability into algebra courses.

This teaching manual is available for download in ebook, PDF, and Microsoft Word format at the Engaging Mathematics website. Engaging Mathematics has published manuals that help teachers incorporate civic issues such as sustainability, climate change, and water pollution into statistics, algebra, modeling, and other mathematics courses. New manuals will continue to be shared as the work of Engaging Mathematics continues. View all Engaging Mathematics teaching manuals.

May Webinar "Evidence Matters: Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to Tell the Story of Curriculum Development"

Engaging Math Partner to Co-Host Webinar on Using SoTL to Tell the Story of Curriculum Development

“Evidence Matters: Using the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning to Tell the Story of Curriculum Development”

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) is a form of research that involves a systematic investigation of teaching practices and student learning followed by peer review and public sharing of the work for others to build upon. This webinar begins with an overview of the key aspects of SoTL, situating it within a spectrum of scholarly work on teaching and learning. Two in-depth case studies, one involving service learning and the other involving sustainability, illustrate how SoTL can contribute to the process of developing, assessing, and disseminating curriculum. One particular SoTL component highlighted in this webinar is the role literature searches play in both shaping and refining questions as well as providing the background context required for publication. Resources for undertaking a SoTL investigation are made available to all participants.

The webinar will be held Thursday, May 5 from 12-1 pm (Eastern).

It will be hosted by:

  • Dr. Jackie Dewar (Professor Emerita of Mathematics, Loyola Marymount University)
  • Dr. Matthew Siniawski (Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Loyola Marymount University)
  • Dr. Rikki Wagstrom (Associate Professor of Mathematics, Metropolitan State University)
Participants new to SoTL may want to view “Inquiring Into Our Students’ Learning – The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning” by Dr. Matthew A. Fisher of Saint Vincent University before the May 5th webinar. This recording provides helpful background on SoTL, and will be referenced by Jackie, Matt, and Rikki during their webinar.


Register

Dr. Frank Wattenberg of USMA describes Engaging Mathematics during a Joint Mathematics Meetings poster session.

Engaging Mathematics Presents Invited Poster at Largest Math Meeting in the World

In early January Engaging Mathematics partners flew to San Antonio to discuss their work at the 2015 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM). The Engaging Mathematics initiative was invited to the JMM to contribute a poster for projects supported by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education.

Initiative partners also presented individual work. Dr. Rikki Wagstrom (associate professor of mathematics at Metropolitan State University, SENCER Leadership Fellow) and her math education student Jodin Morey gave talks on curricula they developed for Engaging Math. Rikki’s curriculum focuses on the Midwest’s declining milkweed populations and the potential impacts for monarch butterflies. Jodin’s compares greenhouse gas emissions from automobile fuels.

Dr. Lynn Gieger (associate professor of mathematics at Oglethorpe University) gave a talk exploring how flipped classrooms impact student attitudes and achievement in a liberal arts mathematics course.

The Joint Mathematics Meetings, the “largest mathematics meeting in the world”, is co-presented by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. To learn more about the JMM, click here. To see the Engaging Mathematics poster exhibited at the meeting, click here. Follow the initiative on Twitter at @MathEngaging.

Rikki Wagstrom (Metropolitan State University)

Engaging Mathematics Faculty Member Writes Chapter for New Book Published by MAA

Dr. Rikki Wagstrom, SENCER Leadership Fellow, associate professor of mathematics at Metropolitan State University, and Engaging Mathematics institutional partner, authored a chapter in the Mathematical Association of America’s recent book Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Her chapter is titled “Using SoTL Practices to Drive Curriculum Development” and describes how SoTL, or the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, influenced her Mathematics of Sustainability course development.

SENCER Leadership Fellow Jacqueline Dewar and Curtis D. Bennett edited Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. They provide the following commentary on Rikki’s chapter:

In this chapter, Rikki Wagstrom describes how she applied SoTL processes to aid in the development and evaluation of a new curriculum that integrated civic issues into a pre-requisite course for college algebra. She helps readers to understand several critical aspects of the process of doing SoTL by describing her approach to searching the literature and telling how her search led her to a useful model, one that prompted her to revise the site of her investigation and helped her re-shape her research question. She provides insights into the concerns that can arise in the selection of faculty to teach experimental and control sections, and the tough decisions that have to be made about how much data to collect.

For the Engaging Mathematics initiative, Rikki plans to develop four new modules for Mathematics of Sustainability. The modules will cover disappearing milkweed populations in the U.S. and the potential impact on Monarch butterfly populations, wind energy modeling and profitability, comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions generated by different automotive fuels, and the interplay between population growth in the U.S. and declining per capita carbon footprints. Each module will be a self-contained, portable unit suitable for use in college algebra, pre-calculus, and liberal arts mathematics courses.

To order a copy of the book, click here. You can follow Engaging Mathematics on Twitter at @MathEngaging.

Photograph courtesy of Dr. Rikki Wagstrom

© Copyright 2013 David Levinson “Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed” https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidspix/9253950982

Sustainable Scholarship

Dr. Rikki Wagstrom first offered a SENCER math course at Metropolitan State University, a lead institution for NCSCE’s Engaging Mathematics initiative, in the fall of 2008. At the 2006 SENCER Summer Institute, she noticed that most SENCER courses were science courses. This inspired her to SENCERize a math course, Metro State’s Math 101, by integrating it with sustainability issues. Her course design was informed by the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). SoTL encourages instructors to research how their teaching methods affect learning and then publicize their findings, helping to advance both the teaching and learning aspects of education.

“Using a SoTL approach forced me to think strategically about the course design,” Wagstrom says. “I knew I wanted to integrate sustainability topics into the Math 101 course, ultimately to investigate the impact on student learning. So I considered from the very beginning what aspects of student learning I was interested in studying and immediately developed preliminary assessment instruments. Having these end targets in my mind helped me focus, structure, and revise the curriculum. My SoTL work made me much more aware of the relationship between how I approach new topics and what students actually learn. By regularly evaluating my students’ work in conjunction with the SoTL project, I discovered how they made sense of the topics they were studying. I would then revise the curriculum in light of their experience and backgrounds, and outcomes subsequently improved.”

Another influence on Math 101’s SENCERization was Kennesaw State College’s Earth Algebra course, which teaches college-level algebra through the context of global warming. Earth Algebra was the result of a FIPSE-funded project. The principal investigators for the project conducted a study of the course’s effectiveness, and found that the civically centered curriculum caused students to make gains in both their views toward mathematics and their abilities to perform data analysis and mathematical modeling, while obtaining no less significant knowledge of algebra than students in traditional courses.

Dr. Wagstrom also conducted a study of her Math 101 course, but did so without the benefits of funding and collaborators, as the Kennesaw study had. Her results showed that integrating sustainability issues into her course was as effective at building students’ mathematical skills as a traditional algebra course, and often better. Additionally, it increased students’ confidence with, and interest in, the subject. An article describing Dr. Wagstrom’s research was published in the Summer 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed Science Education and Civic Engagement: an International Journal, and a detailed account of her study also appears as a chapter in Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Mathematics.

The observed student-learning gains from Dr. Wagstrom’s Math 101 course led her to receive a Center for Teaching and Learning STEM grant from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to expand her earlier work by creating a Math 102 course called Mathematics of Sustainability. This course counts for both a general education and college algebra credit, and covers mathematical topics from environmental, social, and economic perspectives.

Before she packages Mathematics of Sustainability into a teaching manual, which will be published online in December 2014 as part of the Engaging Mathematics initiative, she intends to add a two-part activity on monarch butterflies and a two-part activity on wind energy that will explore both the science and financial viability of the energy source. She would also like to develop a curriculum related to ocean acidification.

In addition, Dr. Wagstrom plans on creating new resources for a Calculus II course that will teach students to model such topics as energy consumption, population dynamics, economic multipliers, the case for buying local, and debt. She will begin developing the curriculum for this course during the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters. The course will be offered in spring or summer 2015, and packaged and published online by December 2015.

For updates on how Dr. Wagstrom’s course developments progress, check future issues of the eNews, and follow Engaging Mathematics on Twitter @MathEngaging to stay informed about the rest of the project.

The photograph above is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0. It appears here in its original form. © Copyright 2013 David Levinson “Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed” https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidspix/9253950982

Article originally published by Christine Marie DeCarlo on May 8, 2014.

Bucki Facilitating

Engaging Mathematics Partners Launch New Initiative

This past weekend, January 24-25, nineteen members of the Engaging Mathematics leadership team, including the partners, advisory board representatives, consultants, and Co-PIs, met in Jersey City, New Jersey to formally begin work on how to “make mathematics relevant to students’ lives, to connect mathematics learning to the goals and interests that students bring to college, and to show how mathematics relates to other disciplines, important civic questions, and technological challenges.”

On the first day of the meeting, the partners from the lead institutions shared and discussed details about the math curricula they had developed, including their intended audiences, the civic topics covered, and the expected rollout of each course or module. Attendees discussed strategies to expand the community of practice by reaching out to peers through academic meetings and conferences. An action planning workshop led by facilitator Jonathan Bucki helped stakeholders to specifically plot activities over the three years of the grant.

Attendees were joined by cadets from the United States Military Academy who shared their experiences with math courses that include civic issues. The cadets also demonstrated mathematical modeling on topics such as power battery loadouts for US soldiers, and the relationships between their costs and weights. Dr. Rikki Wagstrom of Metropolitan State University discussed how she incorporated the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) into her “Mathematics of Sustainability” course.

The second day of the meeting focused on assessment and evaluation. The independent evaluator for Engaging Mathematics, Leo Gafney, discussed his plans and methods for evaluating the project outcomes. Later, Stephen Carroll of Santa Clara University discussed guidelines and best practices for the Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG), which will be used to evaluate student progress in the courses.

“It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the project’s faculty members from different institutions as they worked together on planning and as they shared their ideas about teaching mathematics through a variety of civic issues, including environmental sustainability, energy consumption, water resources, and other topics related to local, regional or national needs. I am optimistic that the work the ‘Engaging Mathematics’ faculty are doing will be shared and serve as models (whether full courses or modules that can be used in a course) for the wider SENCER and national mathematics communities,” said Ellen Mappen, an NCSCE consultant with the project.

Following the meeting, Dr. Lynn Gieger of Oglethorpe University, a partner in Engaging Mathematics, shared that, “I came away from the weekend with a much better sense of the larger project as well as our particular role in it.” Dr. Chris Arney, professor of math and Chair of Network Science for the United States Military Academy and member of the advisory board, noted, “I do believe I was re-SENCERized.”

A page focusing on Engaging Mathematics activities and resources is now live here. Over the course of the project, a separate website will be developed and linked to this page. Visitors will be able to peruse the types of courses planned to be enhanced or developed, and additional features will be added to the site to allow project partners to share details on their course development, and once available, the results of course implementations. To learn more about the Engaging Mathematics initiative, please click here.

Article originally published by Kyle Simmons and Christine Marie DeCarlo on January 30, 2014.

Table Discussion

Engaging Mathematics Hosts Planning Meeting in New Jersey

As previously announced in the eNews (here), the National Science Foundation recently funded the project Engaging Mathematics, “a strategy and program to make mathematics relevant to students’ lives, to connect mathematics learning to the goals and interests that students bring to college, and to show how mathematics relates to other disciplines, important civic questions, and technological challenges.” On January 24th and 25th, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement will host the kick-off meeting in Jersey City, NJ.

Engaging Mathematics project leadership includes Wm. David Burns, Principal Investigator, and Co-Principal Investigators Cindy Kaus of Metropolitan State University, Mangala Kothari of LaGuardia Community College, and Frank Wattenberg of the United States Military Academy. Project partners, who will develop the curricula and materials, include Tony Dunlop and Victor Padron of Normandale Community College, Cathy Evins and Barbara Gonzalez of Roosevelt University, Lynn Gieger and John Nardo of Oglethorpe University, Rikki Wagstrom of Metropolitan State University, and John Zobitz of Augsburg College.

During next week’s meeting, 19 of the project’s stakeholders will examine the curricula developed by the partners, discuss the expansion of the community of practice, and more closely plot the trajectory of the project going forward. Jonathan Bucki will facilitate planning discussions. Additional consultation will be provided by Dr. Leo Gafney (the project’s external evaluator), and Eliza Reilly and Ellen Mappen (of the National Center). Advisory board members who will contribute expertise for Engaging Mathematics include David Arney of the US Military Academy, Prabha Betne of LaGuardia Community College, Victor Donnay of Bryn Mawr College, David Ferguson of Stony Brook University, and Susan Forman of Bronx Community College. A summary of the meeting will be featured in a forthcoming edition of the NCSCE eNews.

Article originally published by Kyle Simmons on January 15, 2014.

stickies table

Engaging Mathematics to Expand SENCER Applications in Mathematics Education

Engaging Mathematics: Building a National Community of Practice is the name for a new three-year initiative supported by the National Science Foundation though its TUES-II program.

Engaging Mathematics (EM) will be organized by faculty colleagues who have successfully incorporated the SENCER ideals and other progressive pedagogies into college-level mathematics education. Over the next three years, the partners will work together to develop, assess and refine courses and modules, sharing them within the community of practice. As the project matures, EM partners will disseminate the results of their labors to the larger higher education community through a variety of media. While EM partners will routinely communicate with the SENCER community and participate in SENCER’s faculty development programs, they will also reach out to—and through—disciplinary societies and others new to SENCER.

In three years, the EM project intends to produce and publish transferable models, offer webinars, and organize local, regional, and national faculty development opportunities. The overall goal is to nurture and support a vibrant community of practice open to those committed to improving mathematics learning by connecting that learning to the great civic challenges of our day.

“Though this wasn’t so in the early years of SENCER, we now have a strong corps of leaders, along with terrific models and other curricular assets, in mathematics,” noted David Burns, NCSCE’s executive director and the PI of the new NSF award. “This grant from NSF will enable a team of scholars who have created many of these assets to work intensively with one another to expand their efforts, connect to new communities, and introduce successful approaches to colleagues around the country.”

“As with all our Center’s initiatives, our goal is to improve learning and strengthen the capacity for responsible civic engagement, ” Burns added. “We are blessed with a terrific team of co-PI’s and campus collaborators who will work to achieve the ambitious goals we set for this project. This is especially important work in the context of our nation’s need to improve our capacity to use mathematics to describe, model, analyze, and make reliable predictions about some of the most vexing problems we face. How to best understand and make decisions about a welter of personal and practical problems that are presented and argued in mathematical or statistical terms is one more challenge we hope to help our students meet.”

Burns, who will serve as principal investigator of Engaging Mathematics, will be joined by a team of co-principal investigators including: Dr. Cindy Kaus of Metropolitan State University, Dr. Mangala Kothari of LaGuardia Community College, and Dr. Frank Wattenberg of the United States Military Academy.

Engaging Mathematics institutional partners include Dr. John Zobitz of Augsburg College, Dr. Victor Padron and Dr. Tony Dunlop of Normandale Community College, Dr. John Nardo and Dr. Lynn Gieger of Oglethorpe University, and Dr. Barbara Gonzalez and Dr. Cathy Evins of Roosevelt University. Dr. Leo Gafney will provide guidance and overall evaluation of Engaging Mathematics activities.

During the term of the project, partners at LaGuardia Community College plan to expand on the successful Project Quantum Leap course Elementary Statistics with Environmental and Social Issues. Metropolitan State University participants will create modules for calculus courses centered on the topic of sustainability. In addition to these newly developed courses, LaGCC and Metro State will also disseminate successful SENCER applications on their campuses to the other Engaging Mathematics partners, and to faculty and administrators locally and nationally.

Augsburg’s focus will be on a project-based calculus endeavor, while Oglethorpe University will create new models for the general education courses required of all students. Roosevelt University partners plan to integrate the SENCER approach into a college algebra course using issues affecting the city of Chicago. Normandale Community College plans to focus on water issues in a general education course, specifically enabling students to create linear and regression models. They also plan to introduce calculus-based group projects into another course.

An overall project goal is to have the newly developed course and modules taught at both the institution where the course was originally developed and at a partner campus. In the end, all the institutional partners will thus have the benefits of several new courses and the PIs and project team will have a better understanding of what is needed to make courses succeed in multiple settings.

Professor Frank Wattenberg of the United States Military Academy will provide guidance and forge connections with other national mathematics innovation initiatives. He will be responsible for connecting our reform efforts to already successful and complementary projects, so that the full advantage of what has been developed and learned by others is available to the EM partners and the SENCER community.

Distinguished educators who will advise Engaging Mathematics partners as they execute activities over the next several years include David C. Arney of the United States Military Academy, Samuel Benigni of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Prabha Betne of LaGuardia Community College, Victor Donnay of Bryn Mawr College, David Ferguson of Stony Brook University, Susan Forman of CUNY Bronx Community College, and Solomon Garfunkel of COMAP. Additionally, NCSCE senior scholars Ellen Mappen and Eliza Reilly will assist project partners with consultation on planning and dissemination and in transforming their successful courses and modules into SENCER national models.

At its invitation, the Engaging Mathematics leadership team will work with the Mathematical Association of America to disseminate materials, modules/courses, and results to their communities of interest. Additionally, Engaging Mathematics will offer a website where updates and resources developed throughout the initiative will be made available to all interested educators, administrators, and students. Regional meetings, national symposia presentations, and faculty development programs are planned.

Look for reports on the work of the Engaging Mathematics partnerships, along with information on how you and your institution might benefit from the EM project in future editions of the eNews.

Article originally published September 19, 2013.