MAA Minicourses

MAA Minicourses are open only to persons who register for the Joint Meetings and pay the Joint Meetings registration fee in addition to the appropriate minicourse fee. The MAA reserves the right to cancel any minicourse that is undersubscribed. Participants should read the descriptions of each minicourse thoroughly as some require participants to bring their own laptops and special software; laptops will not be provided in any minicourse. The enrollment in each minicourse is limited to 50; the cost is US\$85.

Minicourse #1. Introductory Proposal Writing for Grant Applications to the NSF EHR/Division of Undergraduate Education, presented by John Haddock, Teri Jo Murphy, and Lee Zia, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation; Part A, Tuesday, 9:00 am–11:00 am, and Part B, Tuesday, 2:00 pm– 3:00 pm. The presenters will describe the general NSF grant proposal process and consider particular details relevant to programs in the Division of Undergraduate Education. This course is geared toward those who have not submitted a proposal to NSF and are unfamiliar with the organization. If you believe you have an idea, project or program worthy of Federal support that will positively impact undergraduate education in mathematics, you should attend this session. This two-part short course will provide information on the specific components of a NSF proposal, demonstrate the NSF peer review process, provide access to previously funded proposals and explicate the NSF merit review criteria by which proposals are reviewed. Participants should leave this minicourse with a draft of a project summary.

N.B. This course is offered on Tuesday, January 5, the day before the Joint Mathematics Meetings officially begin.

Minicourse #2. Visual Topics in Undergraduate Complex Analysis, presented by Michael Brilleslyper, US Air Force Academy, and Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University; Part A, Wednesday, 4:45 pm–6:45 pm, and Part B, Friday, 3:30 pm–5:30 pm. Complex analysis is a staple of the undergraduate mathematics curriculum. It is a beautiful mathematical subject that unifies and extends many topics from other courses. The course readily pulls together the theories of polynomial equations, differentiation, integration, and series, while also including geometry and function theory. Unfortunately, many undergraduate courses end right where the cool stuff starts. In this minicourse, the proposers intend to expose the participants to two of the myriad of topics that are possible: (1) an introduction to minimal surfaces, and (2) the dynamics and locations of zeros of families of polynomials. Both of these topics are accessible to an audience having familiarity with the basics of complex analysis. The course is aimed at instructors of complex variables who are looking for some interesting topics for their courses, mathematicians who want to start learning something about the proposed areas, and instructors looking for potential undergraduate research projects to do with their students. Participants will need to bring their own computers with a current version of Mathematica, Maple™, or MATLAB. There will be limited support for Sage.

Minicourse #3. Designing and Implementing a Problem Based Mathematics Course, presented by Gail Burrill, Michigan State University; Bowen Kerins, Educational Development Center; and Darryl Yong, Harvey Mudd College; Part A, Wednesday, 4:45 pm–6:45 pm, and Part B, Friday, 3:30 pm–5:30 pm. This is a problem based math course, where students spend most of the time in an interactive, collaborative environment, working on problems connecting various mathematical domains, which can simultaneously engage a broad range of students and enlarge their understanding of what it means to do math. The panelists will discuss the design of such a course, consider issues related to teaching the course, and describe how it might be implemented in a mathematics program. Such courses were originally developed for teachers at the Park City Mathematics Institute but are applicable for undergraduate majors, prospective teachers, or as part of continuing education programs for experienced teachers. Discussion will be framed by asking what the mathematical goals of such a course might be, how these goals could contribute to a better student understanding of what it means to do mathematics and how such courses might be part of the offerings in a typical math department.

Minicourse #4. Teaching Mathematics with Sports Applications, presented by Rick Cleary, Babson College; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15 pm–4:15 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm. This minicourse is designed to help participants who wish to develop a course in mathematics and sports, or to incorporate sports applications into existing courses. The depth of the problems will range from those that require little mathematical background (elementary probability, statistics and combinatorics) that would be suitable in a first year seminar or general education course, to more sophisticated topics (linear algebra, operations research, mathematics of finance) that can make up an elective for mathematics majors or minors. Examples will come from many different sports including baseball, basketball, football, figure skating, distance running and others depending on the interest of participants. Application topics will include strategy, ranking and judging, efficient scheduling and optimization. Participants will find many of the issues are connected to essays in the MAA-published book Mathematics and Sports edited by Joe Gallian.

Minicourse #5. Teaching Introductory Statistics for Instructors New to Teaching Statistics, presented by Carolyn K. Cuff, Westminster College; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00 am–11:00 am, and Part B, Friday, 9:00 am– 11:00 am. This minicourse, intended for instructors new to teaching statistics, exposes participants to the big ideas of statistics and the ASA-endorsed Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) report. It considers ways to engage students in statistical literacy and thinking, and contrast conceptual and procedural understanding in the first statistics course. Participants will engage in many of the classic activities that all statistics instructors should know. A set of approximately 6–8 hands-on classroom-ready activities will be given to participants. Parts of each activity will be done by the participants, other parts will be summarized by the presenter and the main statistical ideas of the activity will be explained to the participants. The activities have been chosen so that they require minimal adaptation for a wide variety of classrooms and are easy to implement. Each activity includes goals, key ideas, prerequisite skills and concepts, connection to other statistical concepts, objectives, known student difficulties and assessment questions. Internet sources of real data, activities, and best practices articles will be examined. Participants will find out how they can continue to learn about the best practices for the first course in Statistics by becoming involved in statistics education related conferences, newsletters, and groups.

Minicourse #6. Getting Started in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, presented by Jacqueline M. Dewar and Curtis D. Bennett, Loyola Marymount University; Part A, Thursday, 8:30 am–10:30 am, and Part B, Saturday, 9:00 am–11:00 am. This course will introduce participants to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in mathematics and help them begin projects of their own. We describe a taxonomy of SoTL questions, provide examples of SoTL projects in mathematics, and discuss methods for investigation. Participants will learn about collecting and analyzing different types of evidence, dealing with human subjects requirements, and selecting venues for presenting or publishing their work. With the presenters’ guidance, participants interactively select and transform a teaching problem of their own into a question for scholarly investigation and identify several types of evidence to gather.


Minicourse #7. Making Sense of Calculus with Mapping Diagrams, presented by Martin Flashman, Humboldt State University; Part A, Thursday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm, and Part B, Saturday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm. In this minicourse participants will learn how to use mapping diagrams (MD) to visualize functions for many calculus concepts. For a given function, f, a mapping diagram is basically a visualization of a function table that can be made dynamic with current technology. The MD represents x and f(x) from the table as points on parallel axes, and arrows between the points indicate the function relation. The course will start with an overview of MD’s and then connect MD’s to key calculus definitions and theory including: linearity, limits, derivatives, integrals, and series. Participants will learn how to use MD’s to visualize concepts, results and proofs not easily realized with graphs for both single and multi-variable calculus. Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop with wireless capability.

Minicourse #8. Algebraic Geometry: A Problem Based Course, presented by Thomas Garrity, Williams College, and Ryan Brown, Georgia College; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15 pm–4:15 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm. Participants will learn how to structure an introductory undergraduate course in algebraic geometry that is problem based (and hence an inquiry based learning course). As algebraic geometry is one of the core subjects of mathematics, such a course allows undergraduates to be introduced to a tremendous amount of material. Further, such a course can be and has been taught either with a linear algebra prerequisite or with an abstract algebra prerequisite. This type of course should be of interest to students who want to become secondary school teachers and also to those students who plan to pursue graduate work in mathematics. People who want to teach an IBL algebraic geometry course or who just want a brief introduction to algebraic geometry are encouraged to attend.

Minicourse #9. Increasing Student Engagement and Understanding through Active Learning Strategies in Calculus; presented by Debbie Gochenaur, Shippensburg University; Larissa Schroeder, University of Hartford; Matt Boelkins, Grand Valley State University; Angie Hodge, University of Nebraska Omaha; Carrie Diaz Eaton, Unity College; and Dana Ernst, Northern Arizona University; Part A, Wednesday, 2:15 pm–4:15 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm. Participants will learn curricular and co-curricular evidence-based, active learning strategies to embed in a Calculus I course. Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, such as writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content; positively impacting student success can begin with an increase in student engagement within the classroom. This mini-course, intended for the novice user, will include small group discussion and hands-on development of active learning strategies. Participants should bring digital copies of their own curriculum material so that strategies can be embedded into personal material during the workshop. Bring a laptop with wireless capability.

Minicourse #10. Directing Undergraduate Research, presented by Aparna Higgins, University of Dayton; Part A, Thursday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm, and Part B, Saturday, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm. This minicourse will cover many aspects of facilitating research by undergraduates, such as getting students involved in research, finding appropriate problems, deciding how much help to provide, and presenting and publishing the results. Similarities and differences between research conducted during summer programs and research that can be conducted during the academic year will be discussed. The minicourse is designed for faculty who are new to directing undergraduate research. Although the examples used will be primarily in the area of discrete mathematics, the strategies discussed can be applied to any area of mathematics.

Minicourse #11. Implementing Inquiry-Oriented Curricula for Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Abstract Algebra, presented by Estrella Johnson, Virginia Tech; Karen Keene, North Carolina State University; and Christy Andrews-Larson, Florida State University; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00 am– 11:00 am, and Part B, Friday, 9:00 am–11:00 am. This session is designed to inform and support instructors interested in implementing inquiry-oriented curriculum. By inquiry-oriented we mean that the students are engaging in authentic mathematical inquiry and the teachers are actively involved in inquiring into students’ mathematical thinking. This mini-course will have two components. In the first component participants will engage with mathematical tasks from three different research-based inquiry-oriented curricula that have been developed for Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Abstract Algebra. The goals of this component are to familiarize participants with the curricular tasks, the nature of the instruction, and common ways of student thinking. The second component will focus on high-leverage teaching practices that can be used in any inquiry-oriented setting. Examples of such practices include leading whole class discussions and launching instructional tasks. The goals of this component are to provide instructors with opportunities to develop some of the necessary teaching practices needed to implement inquiry-oriented curricula.

Minicourse #12. Humanistic Mathematics, presented by Gizem Karaali, Pomona College, and Eric Marland, Appalachian State University; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00 am– 11:00 am, and Part B, Friday, 9:00 am–11:00 am. The phrase humanistic mathematics is historical, going back about thirty years, and awakens many connotations in those who hear it. Indeed humanistic mathematics can include a broad range of topics; we use it in two distinct manners. First, as a scholarly perspective, humanistic mathematics describes an approach to mathematics that views it as a human endeavor and focuses on the paths of inquiry that study its aesthetic, cultural, historical, literary, pedagogical, philosophical, psychological, and sociological aspects. Second, as a pedagogical stance, humanistic mathematics explores and builds on the relationship of mathematics with its nontraditional partners in the humanities, the fine arts, and social sciences, providing additional perspective for the role of mathematics in a liberal arts education. This mini-course will introduce participating mathematics faculty to the ideas and scholarship of humanistic mathematics, a body of literature that eschews disciplinary jargon (e.g., edu-speak) in favor of reaching a more diverse audience. As concrete outcomes, participants will: develop a viable plan for a liberal arts course that they can offer at their own campuses to invite many new students into the fascinating world of mathematics; come up with ideas for possible scholarly projects in order to contribute to the ongoing conversations in the field; connect with like-minded colleagues; and get informed about possible venues of communication, collaboration, and dissemination of materials related to humanistic mathematics.

Minicourse #13.. Introduction to Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in Mathematics Courses, presented by Laurie Lenz, Marymount University; Zdenka Guadarrama, Rockhurst University; and Jill E. Guerra, University of Arkansas Fort Smith; Part A, Thursday, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm, and Part B, Saturday, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm. This minicourse will introduce faculty to the guided inquiry instructional method called POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). Participants will use hands-on activities to learn the crucial elements in a successful guided inquiry classroom. The workshop will provide participants with a basic introduction to facilitation techniques and an opportunity to reflect on how facilitation can enhance or interfere with student learning as well as how facilitation strategies can be critical in the development of student process skills. The participants will have the opportunity to examine a POGIL calculus activity and be introduced to the way the learning structure that is integrated into all POGIL activities is implemented in a mathematics specific activity. By the end of the workshop, participants will be trained to begin implementing guided inquiry activities in their own mathematics classrooms.

Minicourse #14. Teaching Quantitative Reasoning with Common Sense and Common Knowledge, presented by Maura B. Mast, and Ethan D. Bolker, University of Massachusetts Boston; Part A, Thursday, 9:00 am– 11:00 am, and Part B, Saturday, 9:00 am–11:00 am. Ten years from now, what do you want or expect your Quantitative Reasoning students to remember? Our answers to those questions profoundly shaped our approach to the course. We realized that in ten years, what matters will be how students approach a problem using the tools they carry with them–common sense and common knowledge–not the particular mathematics we chose for the curriculum. This has changed how and what we teach. In this minicourse we will provide hands-on experience with class activities using our approach and practice creating examples and exercises from current news.

Minicourse #15. Teaching Statistics using R and RStudio, presented by Randall Pruim, Calvin College; Part A, Thursday, 10:00 am–12:00 noon, and Part B, Saturday, 10:00 am–12:00 noon. R is a freely available language and environment for statistical computing and graphics that has become popular in academia and in many industries. But can it be used with students? This mini-course will introduce participants to teaching applied statistics courses using computing in an integrated way. The presenter has been using R to teach statistics to undergraduates at all levels for the last decade and will share an approach and some favorite examples. Topics will include workflow in the RStudio environment, providing novices with a powerful but manageable set of tools, data visualization, basic statistical inference using R, and resampling. Much of this will be facilitated using the mosaic package. The minicourse is designed to be accessible to those with little or no experience teaching with R, and will provide participants with skills, examples, and resources that they can use in their own teaching. Participants should bring a laptop to the session.

Minicourse #16. Mobile Mathematics—Interactive Apps for Teaching and Learning, presented by Lila Roberts, Clayton State University, and Andrew G. Bennett, Kansas State University; Part A, Wednesday, 4:45 pm– 6:45 pm, and Part B, Friday, 3:30 pm–5:30 pm. Mobile devices have made their way into our lives and our classrooms. In this minicourse, participants will learn about various ways to integrate tablets and other mobile devices into mathematics courses. The presenters will demonstrate interactive resources that they have developed as well as other applications/materials that are ready-made and easily available. In addition, participants will learn how to use various ways to develop new and/or adapt existing resources for their face-to-face and online classrooms. Bring your own mobile device and/or a wireless capable laptop computer.