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University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota


Key Highlights

  • Creating models for a national push to reform math instruction.
  • Studying and scaling the implementation of active learning to dramatically increase student success in introductory math courses.
  • Through a National Science Foundation grant, twelve institutions are studying the implementation of active learning on their campuses to dramatically increase student success in introductory math courses.

Entry-level math remains one of the biggest barriers to student success. Nationally, 25 to 50 percent of students fail their first math class, with another 50 percent of students in STEM majors switching out of those fields after struggling in math. Yet schools that have adopted active learning in entry-level math have achieved remarkable increases in student success. Students in active learning courses earn a higher course grades by half a letter grade and students in classes with traditional lectures were 1.5 times more likely to fail.

With a $3 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, APLU is partnering with three lead institutions (the University of Colorado, Boulder; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and San Diego State University) and nine additional universities to study how to drive institutional change through the implementation of active learning implementation in math. The effort is called SEMINAL: Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning.


Collaborating for Innovation
Through SEMINAL, faculty are collaborating with APLU to better understand how to effectively implement active learning in undergraduate math and how to drive wider adoption of active learning methods in higher education. The work was initiated through APLU’s Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership (MTEP) initiative.

In January 2018, APLU announced the expansion of SEMINAL to include nine new universities – bringing the total number institutions involved in the effort to 12. The nine new universities joined the three core institutions to form a diverse cohort of institutions aiming to study how to enact and support institutional change fostering the use of active learning in mathematics.

Together, the universities will serve as models for a national push to reform introductory math instruction. Given significant university interest in joining the active learning project, SEMINAL will seek ways to engage a broader network of universities in the future.

The twelve participating institutions are: