Over 120 math faculty at 27 institutions are studying the implementation of active learning on their campuses to dramatically increase student success in introductory math courses as part of the SEMINAL Network.
The University of Nebraska has been engaged in transformation efforts for the past decade. Infusing active learning began with Precalculus (largely taught by graduate student instructors), and have grown to encompass Calculus 1, Business Calculus, Calculus 2, Contemporary Mathematics (terminal discrete mathematics course for non-STEM majors). Key change levers include a systemic approach; understanding institutional change; a focus on student success via active learning; effective leadership (department chair, vice chair, faculty task force, director of first-year mathematics, associate dean for undergraduate education, associate provost for undergraduate education); a departmental culture that encourages educational improvements; course coordination; professional development for graduate student instructors and learning assistants (including pre-semester workshops and year-long course for second year graduate students); nurturing instructor communities of practice; finding and allocating resources to improve teaching and learning; collecting and using local data to inform change efforts; hiring learning assistants to support active learning; and an underlying premise that students can be more successful when engaged with better teaching, and that instructors can be taught how to become better teachers. The University of Nebraska team includes: PIs Wendy Smith, Nathan Wakefield & Allan Donsig; past graduate research assistants Karina Uhing (University of Nebraska at Omaha); Molly Williams (Murray State University), and Sally Ahrens; current graduate research assistants Rachel Funk, Emily McMillon, George Nasr, Brittany Johnson, and Carlie Triplett; and past undergraduate research assistant Bret Reetz.
Over the past seven years San Diego State University has taken a holistic approach to transform its precalculus and calculus sequence to reflect research-based characteristics of successful programs. This has included robust professional development and support for graduate students, new active learning focused discussion sections, increased student support via a new mathematics and statistics learning center, and new course coordination with the goals of building a community of practice among instructors and providing engaging and equitable courses for students. More information about the SDSU change story is available here. The current SDSU team includes: PIs Chris Rasmussen and Michael O’Sullivan; Senior Personnel April Strom (Chandler-Gilbert community college), Naneh Apkarian (Arizona State University) and Matthew Voigt (Clemson University); Graduate research assistants Antonio Martinez and Colin McGrane; and Undergraduate research assistant Kaia Ralston.
The University of Colorado, Boulder has been engaged in course transformation efforts since the mid-1990s.The first step in these transformations was moving Precalculus and the courses in the calculus sequence from large lecture classes to small sections. Infusing active learning began with Calculus 1, in the late 2000s, expanded to Calculus 1 and 2, and by 2006 to all of our multi-section first year mathematics courses. The University of Colorado, Boulder team includes: PIs Robert Tubbs and David Grant of the Department of Mathematics and David Webb of the School of Education; Harrison Stalvey, Instructor in the Department of Mathematics; graduate researchers Nancy Kress and Rebecca Machen; and undergraduate researcher Isael Ramirez.
During Phase I, the SEMINAL team conducted retrospective case studies of six institutions that have successfully engaged in program transformation around P2C2 courses.
In January 2018, nine new universities joined the three core institutions (collaborative research partners) 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. These universities were selected from a pool of 46 institutions that submitted proposals and now serve as models for a national push to reform introductory math instruction.
Joining in 2020, these institutions are the subject of study of how their change efforts proceeded without their involvement in the initial network of other institutions. They are now contributing members of the network.