JMM Professional Enhancement Programs (PEP)

JMM Professional Enhancement Programs (PEP)  are open only to persons who register for the Joint Meetings and pay the Joint Meetings registration fee, in addition to the appropriate PEP fee. The AMS reserves the right to cancel any PEP that is undersubscribed. The cost per PEP is  US\$125  Member (AIM, AMS, AWM, ASA, NAM, or SIAM); \$175 Nonmember. Note that online registration for a PEP will close on 1/3/23. After that, registration can only be made onsite at the meeting, through 1/4/23. Registration will close for the PEPs after 1/4/23.

Breaking the Cycle of Mechanisms of Inequality in Mathematics Teaching and Learning, presented by Nicole M. Joseph, Vanderbilt University and William Yslas Velez, University of Arizona; Part A, Wednesday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm. The field of mathematics continues to be plagued with underrepresentation and attrition among racialized and gendered students. African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students seldom find mathematics and statistics as an attractive major and career pathway because they are often discouraged and pushed out by high school counselors and mathematics teachers, undergraduate advisors, and higher education mathematics faculty. The mathematics field also promotes neutrality and objectivity in the teaching and learning space, rather than as a space of contestation whereby minoritized students experience intellectual and psychological harm (Leyva et al., 2021; Martin, 2019). In their study of 18 Black and Latina/o students’ perceptions of Calculus instruction as a racialized and gendered experience, Leyva and colleagues (2021) found two logics: (1) instructors hold more mathematical authority than students in classrooms and (2) Calculus coursework is used to weed out students ‘not cut out’ for STEM. These logics, coupled with the influence of broader sociohistorical forces, such as stereotypes, give rise to what these scholars call “mechanisms of inequality” through seemingly neutral instructional practices. Consequently, these introductory mathematics courses and the instructors who teach them reinforce racial-gendered distribution of classroom participation and STEM persistence. So, when a mathematics faculty advises “an entire class to drop down a course level or not take Calculus 2 if they cannot complete steps of a problem quickly,” (Leyva et al., 2021, p.31.), this discourse is racialized and gendered. Faculty think that they are helping students, being benevolent, but are in fact causing minority students to experience a unique form of discrimination. And when minoritized students internalize these logics, they say to themselves things like “oh, so, this is why Black and Latinx students are not in mathematics; they don’t belong here.

So, what can we do as a field to address these issues? First, we must be bold and brave to acknowledge minoritized experiences as real, legitimate, and that the field perpetuates these issues. Next, we need to come together to educate ourselves about ways to critically examine and disrupt instructional practices that subscribe to exclusionary logics and fuel mechanisms of inequality. This is hard work, and we need each other to learn and grow beyond equity-light discussions. It is important for mathematics instructors and faculty to understand that instructional practices are more than what they do, say, and teach in the classroom. Instruction happens during office hours, advising appointments, mentoring sessions, and other spaces where conversations about mathematics learning and college/career aspirations occur between mathematics faculty, advising personnel and racialized and gendered students.

This PEP aims to co-construct with its audience members a powerful and meaningful learning experience for breaking down these issues and disrupting the cycle of inequality in the mathematics community. Participants engage in short readings, small group discussion, scenario/video analyses, and their tangible product is an implementation plan for change within their own realms of influence.

Developing Mathematics Programs for Workforce Preparation in Data Science and Other Applications, presented by Rick Cleary, Babson College, and Chris Malone, Winona State University; Part A, Wednesday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This PEP will provide an opportunity for individuals and departments to think in a big picture way about how to create a more modern and inclusive curriculum. Based on our own experience and recommendations in a report from Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center (EERC Curriculum Report) commissioned by TPSE, we will ask participants to think broadly about what constitutes a program in mathematics that prepares students for careers in data science or other applications areas such as public policy, health care or business.

Our expected takeaways for participants are:

  • Consideration of updated mathematics curricula that can be taught without the usual three semesters of calculus as a pre-requisite, and how this might encourage a more diverse set of students.
  • How to structure courses and programs that have sophisticated mathematical content but are simultaneously useful for students preparing for careers rather than graduate school.
  • Ideas for structuring a new major or program in a mathematics department that involves stakeholders from outside mathematics, particularly employers and other academic departments.
  • Careful evaluation of courses and pre-requisite structures that will encourage broader participation in new programs.

Workshop participants will be asked to respond to a pre-course questionnaire. Responses from this questionnaire will be used by the presenters to form small groups for discussion during the course. Rick Cleary will lead discussion for the first two points. He has over 15 years of experience building non-standard mathematics curricula for students interested in engineering and business. Chris Malone will lead discussion on points three and four. He helped build the successful data science major at Winona State University.

Evidence-based Practices for More Effective Mentoring Relationships, presented by Pamela E. Harris, Williams College and Abbe Herzig, TPSE-Math; Part A, Wednesday, 1:00–3:00 pm, and Part B, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This interactive and evidence-based PEP will be based on the curriculum Entering Mentoring, developed by the Center for the Improvement for Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Both Dr. Harris and Dr. Herzig are CIMER-trained facilitators for this curriculum series.

CIMER is leading a nationwide initiative to improve mentoring relationships for mentees and mentors at all career stages through the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based and culturally-responsive mentoring practices. Culturally responsive relationships between mentors and mentees can help mathematicians of underrepresented groups successfully progress in their careers, becoming effective mentors, scientific leaders, and research team members of the future.

The Entering Mentoring curriculum was developed for mentors across science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) disciplines at different career stages, working with undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The curriculum has been shown to be effective in increasing mentoring knowledge, skills, and behavior. This PEP will use curriculum materials developed specifically for mentoring in the mathematical sciences.

Participants will learn the importance of three dimensions of mentoring relationships: building research skills, participating in professional practices, and developing a mathematical identity. The goal is to accelerate the process of becoming an effective mentor by providing mentors with an intellectual framework, an opportunity to experiment with various methods, and a forum in which to solve mentoring dilemmas in collaboration with their peers. By the end of the training, mentors will have articulated their personal approach to and philosophy of mentoring and have a toolbox of strategies they can use to help their mentees develop in all three dimensions of professional success. Co-sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, The Center for Minorities in the Mathematical Sciences, and Lathisms.

Inclusive Active Learning in Undergraduate Mathematics, presented by Nancy Kress, University of Colorado at Boulder, Rebecca Machen, University of Colorado at Boulder, Wendy Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Matt Voigt, Clemson University; Part A, Thursday, 9:00–11:00 am, and Part B, Saturday, 9:00–11:00 am. This PEP will support participants to advance their use of active learning instructional practices with explicit attention to approaches that support inclusive learning communities. Promotion of positive experiences for all students, especially those who identify as members of underrepresented groups in mathematics, will be central throughout this PEP. This PEP will address early undergraduate mathematics course structures, policies, instructional practices and methods of assessment with emphasis aligned to the needs and interests of the participants. The course will be welcoming, appropriate and applicable for all participants interested in using active learning instructional practices including those considering active learning for the first time and those who have been using active learning approaches in their classes for many years. This PEP will be organized around the premise that we can all learn from each other and we all have experiences that, when shared, contribute to the learning of others in the group. Activities in this Inclusive Active Learning PEP will include the following:

  • Opportunities to grapple with, discuss and role play responses to a variety of scenarios that describe challenging situations or potentially difficult conversations that can arise in active learning classrooms
  • Opportunities to share, discuss and problem solve around challenges, concerns and/or prior experiences generated by session participants
  • Opportunities to consider existing examples of teaching math for social justice and to adapt, design, develop and share lessons and materials for use in our own classrooms

Participants will leave with example scenarios that can be used to facilitate conversations with other members of their departments, new experiences related to navigating challenging situations and conversations that can arise in undergraduate mathematics classrooms, and lesson plans that can be used in their own classes. This will draw off of experiences and research results from two NSF funded IUSE projects. The Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning (SEMINAL) project is currently conducting supplementary funded work focused on equity in active learning instructional contexts that includes facilitating a two-semester biweekly equity workshop with participants who are members of the SEMINAL research project. The Characteristics of Equitable Mathematics Project (CEMP) is studying the nature of instruction, student experiences and departmental contexts in mathematics departments identified as promoting especially positive experiences for women and students of color. The experiences and results gained from these projects will inform the design of this PEP, and empirical research results will be shared with participants.

Recruiting and Mentoring Majors in the Mathematical Sciences, presented by Jason Aubrey and William Y. Velez, University of Arizona; Part A, Friday, 9:00–11:00 am and Part B, Saturday, 9:00–11:00 am. In this PEP, the organizers will explain the model of intensive advising and recruiting of math and data science majors at the University of Arizona. These activities are organized under the umbrella of a “Math Center.” A description of the Math Center at the University of Arizona will be given, listing the duties/ activities/ responsibilities of the Math Center and how it is funded. We will then explore how participants can implement similar activities in their departments. Topics will include the following.

Recruiting students into the major:

  • First year students: Why should a first-year student declare mathematics as a major? We will discuss letters of invitation that can be sent to incoming students, and what a welcoming letter should look like. An example of such a letter will be presented for critique. Participants will be given the task of writing their departmental letter inviting students into the major. This will involve looking at their own website and making suggestions as to how the website can appear more informative.
  • Students beyond the first year: Students add the mathematics major later on in their course of study. Review of letter of invitation for students beyond their first year. Obstacles that departments and universities impose.
  • Recruiting minority students into the major: Given the minority status, there are opportunities available that can be used to motivate students to pursue the math major.
  • The benefits for faculty of a Math Center: The Math Center has professionals that understand not only the rules and regulations of the university, but they are also knowledgeable of the opportunities for mathematics majors. A Math Center can be seen as a focal point for transforming students into professional mathematicians.

The undergraduate major: What does the undergraduate mathematics major program of study look like? What is it preparing students to do? Is the mathematics major preparing students for the past or for the future? Participants will look over their program of study for the undergraduate mathematics major and we will discuss similarities and differences. Participants should have reviewed their website for the undergraduate program of study and have that website available for discussion.

Mentoring: Students of mathematics often run into difficulty. Mentoring students in trouble presents challenges. How can faculty help these students? What are the local resources available to help students and how are faculty aware of them? Do students know how to effectively learn the material?

Using Your Voice for Influence and Impact: Incorporating Mathematics into Public Discourse, presented by Kira Hamman, Penn State Mont Alto, Karen Saxe, American Mathematical Society, Francis Su, Harvey Mudd College, and Scott Turner, American Mathematical Society; Part A, Wednesday, 9:00 – 11:00 am and Part B, Friday, 9:00 – 11:00 am. Polarized politics and misinformation—often amplified by social media—are of great concern to people who value facts and evidence-based decision making. Mathematical scientists are in a unique position to combat the erosion of public discourse with quantitative information. But to be effective they need to reach a general audience. One way to do this is by preparing opinion pieces for popular media. Indeed, media outlets regularly seek clear, concise, evidence-based opinions from experts on pressing issues. This PEP will cover:

  • Choosing compelling topics and angles
  • Writing for a general audience
  • Structuring an opinion piece
  • Distilling complex ideas and relevant quantitative information
  • Harnessing the power of storytelling to share science with a general public
  • Getting a piece into the hands of people who will publish it

Participants will be asked to come to the PEP with topic ideas for an opinion piece. Before the program, they will also receive published samples in which authors successfully incorporated scientific information and/or shared viewpoints, as well as a list of best practices.

After instruction and small-group brainstorming in the first session, participants will be asked to return on day two with a first draft of around 800 words. These will be discussed in a session that will include a panel of established writers, who will describe their experiences writing and publishing math-infused opinion pieces.

Besides receiving resources and guidance to reach the wider world, participants will leave the PEP with drafts that can be polished for publication. They will also belong to a newly minted collection of like-minded colleagues—mathematicians using their expertise to contribute to the public discourse.

Creating accessible and interactive documents with PreTeXt, presented by Oscar Levin, University of Northern Colorado and Steven Clontz, University of South Alabama; Part A, Thursday, 9:00–11:00 am and Part B, Saturday, 9:00–11:00 am. PreTeXt is a document authoring system to create a variety of output formats, including fully accessible webpages, PDF, Epub, Jupyter Notebooks, and braille. Its “write once, read anywhere” approach has made PreTeXt a popular choice for authors of Open Educational Resources, but it can also be used to create other kinds of mathematical documents. Recent updates make this process much easier. There has never been a better time to get started with PreTeXt.

Participants will be introduced to the fundamentals of authoring documents with PreTeXt and gain the technical skills required to work with it. Specifically, participants will learn how to:

  • Install all required free and open-source software.
  • Create a new PreTeXt document.
  • Write and structure content using PreTeXt markup.
  • Add content to the document, including mathematics, graphics, interactive exercises, and more.
  • Build accessible and interactive webpages as well as a static PDF from the same PreTeXt source.
  • Easily deploy the interactive webpages online (for free).

We will also share tips for converting existing documents into PreTeXt. Participants should have some familiarity with LaTeX or other markup languages. No previous experience working with PreTeXt or HTML/XML is assumed. Participants should bring a Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop on which they can install software, or alternatively a device that can use the service. Instructions for downloading and installing software will be provided prior to the PEP. This PEP is sponsored by AIM.

How to Run Successful Math Circles for Students and Teachers, presented by Brianna Donaldson, American Institute of Mathematics, Spencer Bowen, American Institute of Mathematics, Gabriella Pinter, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Lauren Rose, Bard College; Part A, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm and Part B, Saturday, 1:00–3:0 0pm. Math Circles are a unique form of outreach through which mathematics professionals share their passion for mathematics with K-12 students and teachers. During a Math Circle, participants explore, create, and communicate substantive mathematics; increase their problem-solving skills; and perhaps most importantly, develop a deeper enjoyment of the subject. Including all types of Math Circles, there are currently over 300 Math Circles across the United States. In this PEP, participants will experience Math Circle activities and discuss related topics including effective facilitation of sessions, recruiting, logistics, and successful Math Circle models. Participants should be well on their way to starting their own Math Circle after this session. This PEP is sponsored by AIM.

Introductory Python Jupyter Notebooks for College Math Teachers, presented by Paul Isihara, Wheaton College (IL); Part A, Wednesday, 9:00–11:00 am and Part B, Friday, 9:00–11:00 am. This hands-on professional enhancement program is intended for college math teachers with no prior experience using Python Jupyter Notebooks (JNBs) in the classroom. This four-part enrichment program will equip each participant with a good working knowledge of how to incorporate a wide variety of JNBs in (i) pre-college outreach programs and general education courses; (ii) quantitative literacy/introductory statistics courses and social justice service projects; (iii) calculus and linear algebra courses; and (iv) REUs in math modeling and data analysis leading to publication in refereed journals.

Visualizing Projective Geometry Through Photographs and Perspective Drawings, presented by Annalisa Crannell, Franklin and Marshall College, and Fumiko Futamura, Southwestern University; Part A, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm and Part B, Saturday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This PEP introduces hands-on, practical art puzzles that motivate the mathematics of projective geometry---the study of properties invariant under projective transformations, often taught as an upper-level course. This PEP seeks to strengthen the link between projective geometry and art. On the art side, we explore activities in perspective drawing or photography. These activities provide a foundation for the mathematical side, where we introduce activities in problem solving and proof suitable for a sophomore-level proofs class. In particular, we use a geometrical analysis of Renaissance art and of photographs taken by students to motivate several important concepts in projective geometry, including Desargues' Theorem and the use of numerical projective invariants. No artistic experience is required.

The ideas and materials presented in this PEP come from a larger set of materials developed by the proposers. We have used these materials in mathematics and art courses for liberal arts majors and projective geometry courses for mathematics majors at our respective institutions. The ideas presented in this PEP are appropriate for self-contained lessons in both types of courses.

DAY 1 (Desargues’s Theorem)

DAY 2 (Numerical invariants)

Worksheets with photographs and drawing exercises, course materials and suggestions for other homework assignments will be available as packets for participants to take home. Rulers, pencils and calculators will be provided for each participant.

Getting Started in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, presented by Jacqueline Dewar, Loyola Marymount University, and Larissa Schroeder, University of Nebraska Omaha; Part A, Thursday, 1:00–3:00 pm and Part B, Friday, 1:00–3:00 pm. This minicourse will introduce participants to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in mathematics and help them initiate projects of their own. It will present a taxonomy of SoTL questions, provide examples of SoTL projects in mathematics, and discuss methods for investigation. Participants will learn how to: frame questions, collect and analyze different types of evidence, meet human subjects’ requirements, and select venues for presenting or publishing their work. With the presenter’s guidance, participants will interactively select and transform a teaching problem of their own into a question for scholarly investigation and identify several types of evidence to gather. They will learn about resources for furthering their work and be encouraged to identify collaborators.


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