Breakout Sessions for Friday, March 2, 2018

Tim Boester, University of Illinois at Chicago

Tim Boester, University of Illinois at Chicago

A Primer on Action Research
Abstract:

Practitioner-based “action research” is being more widely adopted in schools to help teachers critically reflect on their teaching practices. This in turn can help schools focus on curricular initiatives and build a professional culture of teaching. For those unfamiliar with action research, this talk will examine an action research project conducted by an undergraduate preservice teacher in an eighth-grade algebra class studying absolute value. While action research is typically reserved for experienced educators, the benefits for novice teachers (graduate student TAs and undergraduate preservice teachers, tutors, and learning assistants) will be explored. As the Director of the Mathematical Sciences Learning Center at UIC, the steps taken to put tutors in a teacher-as-research mindset while working in classrooms and the learning center will be described.

Presentation preceded/followed by discussion. Participants will be asked to solve a couple of absolute value problems prior to the presentation in order to introduce the idea of a controlled teaching experiment. After the presentation, participants will be asked to reflect on/discuss opportunities that conducting action research at their own institutions/classrooms affords, along with the potential constraints/challenges.

Angela Calabrese Barton, Michigan State University

Angela Calabrese Barton, Michigan State University and Danny Bernard Martin, University of Illinois at Chicago

Broadening Participation: continuing the discussion
Abstract:

In this session we foster discussion about the ideas from our two plenary talks, take additional questions from participants, and look for connections and synergy between the themes.

Andrew Kerr, Truman College

Andrew Kerr, Truman College

Persistent Quizzing: It seems to work, and it's a lot of work
Abstract:

Research suggests that persistent, low-stakes quizzing significantly improves student learning. My own data analysis agrees with this suggestion; I will share data from sections of my statistics classes. I will show the results of difference of means tests for success rate data, grade distribution data, and attendance data.

It is a lot of work to write and to grade all of the low-stakes quizzes. I do all of the writing and grading by hand; none of my quizzes are auto-generated, and all quizzes are taken in class. I have discovered some efficiencies to minimize the administrative work: put previously solved problems on quizzes, keep quiz sheets to one page, make all quizzes worth the same number of points.

I will provide examples of quizzes and some of the data, so participants can engage me and also talk among themselves. I will ask participants what metrics they might consider to assess the success of persistent quizzing, using my AB ratio as an example of a "homegrown" metric. This latter question should help participants interact with each other.

Michael Maltenfort, Northwestern University

Michael Maltenfort, Northwestern University

Square dancing: a way to get students to write papers in a math class
Abstract:

In the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences of Northwestern University, students must take two seminars during their first year. These courses are taught on a wide variety of topics by faculty members throughout the college. Furthermore, each of these courses must include a significant writing component.

One such seminar is titled “Rubik’s Cubes, Square Dancing, and Mathematics.”

In addition to being the faculty member who teaches this course, Michael Maltenfort is a square dance caller. In this session, participants will discuss the assigned topics of a couple of the papers in this course. To do this, they will first learn some elementary square dancing! (Neither prior knowledge nor a good sense of rhythm is required.) The conclusions to be proved are not trivial, so bring an open mind and, if possible, wear comfortable shoes.

Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado, Boulder

Valerie K. Otero, University of Colorado, Boulder

Essential Elements of the Learning Assistant Program
Abstract:

This session introduces the three essential elements of the learning assistant experience: interactions with students, weekly content preparation meetings, and participation in a pedagogy course. The roles of LAs, faculty, and curricular materials will be highlighted as participants analyze videos of LAs working with students. In addition to essential elements, participants will have the opportunity to discuss issues in starting and sustaining and scaling an LA program and collecting data to support claims about the program's effectiveness.

Angela Thompson, Governors State University

Angela Thompson and Dreyvon McCray, Governors State University

Interpreting a Mass Spectrometry into Calculus
Abstract:

Some applied calculus students may wonder where the “applied” part comes in if the course is structured around lectures, a text, and exams. For this project, the professor hired an undergraduate chemistry major as a teaching assistant through the tutoring center to support applied calculus students both in and out of class in the course material. At the same time, the chemistry student prepared a chemistry/calculus application to teach and engage the class with to conduct his own research.

Our research questions are as follows:

  1. How do students apply calculus when they are presented with real chemistry data as part of an applied calculus course?
  2. What are the attitudes of students about mathematics and science when presented with real data in an applied calculus course?

The objective of our research project was to engage a classroom and learn their perspectives of interpreting data collected in a chemistry laboratory. This project was used to determine if the student’s interest level would increase or decrease, especially considering that the students are not STEM majors.

The breakout session will include a brief description of the research from the perspective of both the professor and the teacher assistant and the results of our data analysis. We wish to engage with the audience by asking what parameters and policies they would need in place at an institution to feel motivated to engage in undergraduate STEM students mentor, tutor, and sometimes even teach their non-STEM major peers.