Breakout Sessions for Friday, March 22, 2019

Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University

Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University

Transforming Introductory Courses: Moving Beyond Instructional Improvements

How can a multifaceted department improvement effort transform introductory STEM courses to promote student success? The purpose of this workshop is to explore research based approaches for improving student success in high enrollment introductory STEM courses such as Precalculus and Calculus. Across the country, student success rates in introductory undergraduate courses are unacceptably low. This has a dramatic effect on the lives of hundreds of thousands of students each year, diverting them from opportunities to pursue STEM careers and leaving them discouraged. However, Bressoud, Mesa and Rasmussen (2015) describe a number of key features of successful introductory mathematics programs that begin to paint a picture of the way forward. This workshop is grounded in lessons learned from faculty and administrators at San Diego State University (SDSU) who over the past several years implemented these features to improve their Precalculus to Calculus 2 sequence. Participants will leave this workshop with: 1) An understanding of how SDSU has enacted largescale change and improved student success in the precalculus/calculus sequence; 2) An understanding of varying implementations of common program features (e.g., tutoring centers, adaptive placement systems, course coordination) and how they support different student populations; 3) An actionable roadmap for tweaking aspects of their institution’s mathematics program in order to better support all students.

Participants will first hear a brief overview (10-minutes) of the change initiatives at SDSU, including a summary of the motivation for the change, process, and outcomes thus far. Participants will then rotate around two 20-minute roundtable discussions of programmatic features relevant to their institution. In each roundtable, participants will first share out their institution’s implementation of a particular feature (e.g., course coordination) and how it does (or does not) support intended goals. After ideas have been shared out, each table will discuss actionable ways of improving their programs related to the selected feature. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in roundtables for two different features. This will be followed by approximately 10-minutes of sharing out across the whole group.

Bressoud, D., Mesa, V., & Rasmussen, C. (Eds.). (2015). Insights and recommendations from the MAA national study of college calculus. Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America.