Math Teaching Group
We're a group of math graduate students + faculty who meet weekly to discuss teaching. People of all levels of interest and teaching experience are welcome.
Upcoming EventsFor the Fall 2022 semester, we are meeting on Mondays from 3-4PM in Hill 701.
- November 28 and December 5, Kayla Gibson How Transparency Can Create a More Equitable Classroom A very simple, but effective enhancement that we can make in our instruction is to "demystify" the learning process by being more transparent to students about our goals and expectations for their learning. During this workshop, participants will look at examples of assignments that have been redesigned to be more transparent to students and then engage in peer review of each others' assignments/syllabi. The goal for participants is to gain practical strategies for promoting greater equity of student learning outcomes and to share these ideas with each other. If you feel comfortable, please bring with you a syllabus and assignment instructions for a course that you've recently taught/taken or that you are going to teach. In-person participants, please bring two hardcopies of each. If possible, bring an assignment that is relatively substantial and that requires students to produce something significant to turn in (e.g. instructions for a modeling task, end-of-term group project, etc.) I will have example syllabi and assignments which we can go through as well!
- November 21, Natasha Ter-Saakov: Encouraging Participation
- November 14, Corrine Yap: Pandemic-Era Policies and Practices I will be leading a discussion on how changes in teaching and course structure during the pandemic have affected how we approach classes today. In particular, we'll touch on issues like options for remote learning (recording lectures, allowing students to participate over Zoom), digital resources and equity, and accommodations and absence policies. If you have taught in-person recently, I'd like you to think about what sorts of policies or classroom practices you are implementing now that you did not, or wouldn't have, prior to the pandemic. Lastly, here are some interesting articles to guide our discussion.
- November 7, Matt Charnley and Bernardo do Prado Rivas: TA Observations All of us have observed a workshop/recitation at some point during our TA training, but not many of us have evaluated the performance of our peers. To start, look over the official form used by instructors to evaluate TAs (available on Canvas). If you've never observed anyone, I encourage you to try filling it out using the two short videos (available on Canvas, 5:16-6:20 and 6:20-8:14) that simulate fairly well a workshop situation. Also, Matt has provided some great material on peer observations: the RASTL Peer Review Rubric Checklist, and the Rutgers Classroom Peer Observation Guide (available on Canvas). It would be great if our discussion leads to possible improvements on the "TA Evaluation Form", or general practice of peer observations in our department.
- October 31, Yael Davidov: Evidence-Based Group Work Here are a couple of resources that might be worth looking over before our discussion: "Cooperative Learning" by Richard M. Felder and Rebecca Brent "Cooperative Learning Strategies" by Martin Joyce
- October 24: Mid-Semester Check-In
- October 17: NE-RUME Debrief
- October 10, Blair Seidler: Prerequisite Remediation
I will be leading a discussion of prerequisites and remediation. Between now and then, it would be helpful if you could think about the following questions in the context of a particular course (the one you are teaching, your favorite, or possibly your least favorite):
- Which of the topics in my course build on knowledge/skills from prior courses? Which knowledge/skills do they depend on?
- Which of the topics in my course are heavily dependent on previous knowledge/skills from the same course? Which knowledge/skills do they depend on?
- How likely are students to remember and be able to apply that knowledge or those skills?
- How bad will it be for the students if they are not able to apply the prerequisite knowledge/skills?
- October 3: Undergraduate Research Panel We will have two guests, Dr. Edray Goins and Dr. Tom Hull, discuss the process of supervising undergraduate research and how to choose appropriate research problems. This meeting will take place over Zoom.
- September 26, Shadi Tahvildar-Zadeh (guest): The Role of the UGVC We will discuss the role of the undergraduate vice-chair and topics such as the general duties of the UGVC, the TA assignment process, and TA observations.
- September 19, Sriram Raghunath: How to have LAs
This week we are planning to discuss 'How to have LAs' (LA =Learning Assistant). If you have had LAs in the past, think about how you managed them, and what issues came up, if any. If you haven't had LAs in the past, you can think about how you would structure your workshop and make the best use of LAs.
If you have some time before the meeting, you can read the Rutgers page on the LA program here: https://rlc.rutgers.edu/student-services/learning-assistant-program https://rlc.rutgers.edu/faculty-and-staff-services/class-support/learning-assistant-information-faculty There is a presentation about the LA program on the above webpage which may be of interest https://rlc.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/overview_of_la_program.pdf The webpage below has many good resources for effective use of LAs in your class - the weekly preparation meeting section may be of interest. https://sites.google.com/view/laa-resources/weekly-preparation-sessions?authuser=0
- September 12: Brainstorming/Planning Session
- April 22, Blair Seidler: Planning a Summer Course This session will be on how to prepare for and teach a summer course. We'll start out with some general advice for those new to summer teaching but will devote most of the time to Q&A and discussion, so please bring any questions you might have!
- April 15: Teaching Jobs Panel We will have two guests to talk with us about teaching jobs in academia - what jobs are out there, how to prepare, and what the teaching side of the job market looks like today. Brian Katz (BK) is an assistant professor of mathematics at CSU Long Beach. They previously taught at Augustana College (a small liberal arts college in the Midwest) and Avenues high school in Manhattan. They received their PhD in mathematics from UT Austin and currently do research in math education. Erika Ward is an associate professor of mathematics and department chair at Jacksonville University in Florida. She received her PhD in mathematics from the University of Kansas. Her research is in Fourier analysis and gerrymandering as well as math education.
- April 8, Yael Davidov: Course Policies We will discuss course policies, with our discussion framed by the following two resources. The first is a resource put together by the Center for Teaching and Learning at Georgia Tech about Establishing Course Policies; it includes some questions you can ask yourself when setting different types of course policies to make sure you've thought them through. We will be focusing on the sections "Attendance and/or Participation" and "Extensions, Late Assignments, and Re-Scheduled/Missed exams". The second is a Syllabus Policy Guide put together by "Simple Syllabus" that has some interesting data about what policies are traditionally included in syllabi and some example policies from a variety of different syllabi at different institutions.
- April 1, Matt Charnley: Choosing a Textbook
This Friday, we will be meeting to talk about my process of writing a book for Differential Equations, and more generally about the process of choosing and finding course materials for classes. Before we meet on Friday, if you get a chance, think about the introductory questions below.
- What are the ideal qualities that you would want a textbook/collection of resources to have for a class you are teaching?
- What are the minimum things you would expect to be able to provide to students in a collection of resources?
- What are things that would cause you to want to change or find a new textbook for a class?
- March 25, Dr. Christina Bifulco (guest): Course Planning and Design Christina is the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning Analytics at CTAAR (the Center for Teaching Advancement & Assessment Research). She has over ten years of teaching experience in higher education and K-12 in both mathematics and education and was awarded her doctorate in education (Ed.D.) focused in 21st Century Education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2017. In her current position at Rutgers, Christina supports faculty, departments, and deans in improving learning and teaching, and develops novel learning and teaching strategies, assessment, and analysis to create and support engaging learning environments where all students are prepared, ready, and able to learn.
- March 11, Corrine Yap: What to Do with 80 Minutes This week we will discuss different class and course designs. To that end, I'd like you to pick a topic from a 100- or 200-level course. Imagine you are the TA for that course, and the instructor has just covered that topic in lecture. You then see your students for an 80-minute class period. With no requirements from your instructor, what do you do in the class? Do you do examples at the board, review lecture material, or introduce new material? Do students work in groups? Is there an assignment or a quiz? Think critically about both the activities that you choose and the length of time everything takes. If you'd like to take this exercise even further, think about your 'dream course': if you had complete control over an undergraduate course, including the topics, the format, the existence or nonexistence of recitations, etc, how would you design it? And why? We will focus mainly on the first scenario but will leave some time at the end to share our dreams :)
- March 4, Dr. Keith Weber (guest), researcher in mathematics education.
- February 25, Brian Pinsky: Building Community Among Students
- February 18, Matt Charnley: Alternative Grading Schemes
This Friday, we will be talking about alternative grading schemes and the various ways they can be implemented. Most of my knowledge, and what we'll probably focus on, is standards-based grading, but we can also mention things like specifications grading or ungrading if there is interest.
If you get a chance, please take a look at the following before Friday:
- AMS Blog Post by Kate Owens - A Beginners Guide to Standards Based Grading
- Robert Talbert Blog Post - Three Steps for Getting Started with Alternative Grading
- Bonus: Spencer Bagley's talk Ungrading as Resistance
- There is also an entire PRIMUS issue on Mastery-Based Grading, which has great articles on this topic if you would like more information.
- February 11, Yael Davidov: Using Cognitive Research in Teaching We will be talking about the article "Teaching the Science of Learning" (accessible on our Canvas site). The article goes over 6 learning strategies and talks about different ways they might be implemented to improve student learning. I would like to use most of our discussion time to talk about any learning strategies that we weren't aware of already (or were surprised by), as well as focusing more on ways that we can implement some of these principles in the materials we give to students or the ways we structure our classes (rather than ways an individual student might use these strategies to improve their study habits- thought that's valuable to think about as well).
- February 4, Corrine Yap: Navigating the TA-Instructor Relationship We'll discuss how to navigate the relationship between TA and instructor. We'll look at some common scenarios that come up when TA-ing a course and discuss strategies for maintaining clear communication with your instructor, how to process instructor feedback, and conflict management resources.
- January 28: Semester Planning
- What can we do at the beginning of term to assess students' knowledge of prerequisite material?
- Can we design our course to make sure that students with gaps in prerequisite knowledge can follow along and fix gaps along the way? e.g. Designing assignments and exams, warm up problems, mastery based grading (with some prerequisite knowledge included as learning goals)
- How do we address gaps in the prerequisite knowledge while we teach in class? e.g. Making a collaborative concept map of things students already know before teaching a new topic
- Are there things we can do outside of class hours to help students bridge this gap? e.g. Special office hours, prerequisite bootcamp
- What are the concepts and skills that each of our courses really need students to bring with them from prior courses?
- When we are teaching one of those prior courses, what things can we do to ensure that (at least many) students retain those skills and concepts for the next course?
- When we are teaching the next course, how do we detect whether or not students actually have the prerequisite concepts and skills?
- If students do not have mastery of those concepts and skills, what do we do to fix it?
- How to breakout rooms?
- How to make class interesting?
- How to know if you're going too fast/slow?
- How to manage time during a recitation or workshop class?
- May 14, Corrine Yap: Canvas Site Organization We'll take a tour through some Canvas sites for previous courses and talk about how you can set up your Canvas site for summer course, both the logistics and the pedagogical aspects.
- April 30, Yael Davidov and Michael Weingart: Hybrid Courses We will be discussing "hybrid" class formats, which is a catch-all term for classes that have some in-person and some online components. We have brainstormed some topics/ questions for us to think about and Michael will be providing some insight into the department history when it comes to hybrid classes. If you are interested, you can read this article which nicely sums up the multitude of course formats that await college students in the fall, and this article which was written back in 2017 (pre-pandemic!) and points out the assets of hybrid formats in disaster situations (they were thinking about hurricanes, snow days, and tornados but it translates nicely).
- April 23, Blair Seidler: Teaching a Summer Course
- April 16, Matt Charnley and Michael Weingart: Mastery-Based Grading We plan to discuss what it is, how it should work, and how it actually works within our classes where we are currently implementing this type of grading system. For reading before the meeting on Friday, the links below are two blog posts by Robert Talbert, who is one of the most out-spoken advocates for doing this in math classrooms. https://rtalbert.org/building-calculus-the-grading-system/ https://rtalbert.org/mastery-grading-and-academic-honesty/
- April 2, Yael Davidov: RU Ready for This? The RU Ready Test
- March 26, Edna Jones: High School and Middle School Outreach
We will discuss different aspects of math outreach, including
- Definition of math outreach
- Purposes of math outreach
- Advantages and disadvantages of different math outreach programs
- Directing students to a math outreach program that is right for them
- How to get involved in math outreach
- March 12, James Holland: Workshops We'll talk about running workshops and groupwork online, best practices, and what we learned from last semester.
- March 5, Corrine Yap: Equity in Classroom Design What are strategies for making a classroom equitable and inclusive? How can we set the stage so that discussions on social justice (e.g. Strike for Black Lives) are not out of place? See Canvas site for some readings that will guide our discussion.
- February 26, Yael Davidov: CTAAR Evaluations Workshop We'll discuss the CTAAR workshop about midcourse surveys and interpreting and utilizing student feedback for change.
- February 19, Tamar Lichter: Writing on the Board Online We'll discuss logistics and strategies for online board work, issues we've encountered, apps we use, and what resources we provide to students.
- February 12, Matt Charnley: Math for Engineering Sequence We'll discuss the math courses required for engineering majors, how the material in them compares to the expectations of the engineering department, and ideas for course curriculum.
- December 7, Dean of Students Office (guest): Identifying Students in Need of Additional Support
- November 30, Yael Davidov and Corrine Yap: Math Department TA Handbook
- November 23, Tamar Lichter and Corrine Yap: Introducting Calc Students to Math Beyond Calculus We will discuss an idea for a new course aimed at 100-level math students to give them more exposure to different topics in math, and possibly increase their interest in pursuing a math major.
- November 16, Joe Guadagni: Academic Integrity Joe will talk about what happens when you submit a case to the office of student conduct and the mysteries behind the curtain. Bring any questions you may have about the process!
- November 2, Matt Charnley and Erik de Amorim: Asynchronous Classes We'll be discussing what we are/have done in these classes, and open up to discuss more broadly about asynchronous classes in general and how they can/should be run.
- October 26: informal check-in about classes and mid-semester evaluations
- October 19, Yael Davidov and Edna Jones: Active Learning Activities We will look at some different types of active learning activities and brainstorm about how we might be able to use these different activity formats to teach concepts in various math classes.
- October 12, Danny Krashen (guest): Building Student Community in Remote Instruction
- October 5, Karuna Sangam and Corrine Yap: Discussing Social Justice in the Math Classroom We sent out some recommended reading on Canvas. When engaging with them, here are some things you might want to think about: Would you feel comfortable sharing this with your students? Would students feel comfortable receiving this from a teacher? Can this be incorporated into an assignment? If yes, how? If not, why?
- September 28, Matt Charnley: Work-Life Balance and Giving Feedback We will talk about feedback and how we give it to students: the interaction between grades and feedback in our classes, how grades and feedback would ideally interact, the many different ways that we can and do give feedback to students, and how this all connects with formative and summative assessment.
- September 21, Blair Seidler: Writing Quizzes and Exams See Canvas site for reading and resources.
- June 19, Corrine Yap and Yael Davidov: How to Address Racism in Math/STEM in the Classroom We will discuss racism in math, ways we might talk to our students and peers about this topic, and what we as graduate students, teachers, and members of the math community can do to try and change the culture of racism in our field.
- June 12, Edna Jones: Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival I will be talking about Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival (JRMF).One of the goals of JRMF is to get students "to think critically and to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through collaborative, creative problem-solving." JRMF uses a lot of active learning techniques at their events. When the pandemic started, JRMF started hosting webinars. In a JRMF webinar, there is one activity of the week, and everyone explores and discusses this activity in breakout rooms on Zoom. I will try to facilitate a JRMF-like webinar tomorrow during the teaching group.
- May 6: Summer Course Planning
- March 26, Corrine Yap: Transition to Online Teaching
- February 27, Chloe Wawrzyniak: Introduction to Inclusive Pedagogy
- February 20, Matt Charnley and Chloe Wawrzyniak: Long-Form Calculus Proposal We will discuss a proposal for a new two-semester calculus sequence with just-in-time precalculus review baked in.
- February 6, Chloe Wawrzyniak: Theories of Mathematical Learning I will be leading a discussion on some of the theories of how people learn mathematics, specifically, what are the cognitive processes that someone goes through when learning a mathematical idea. Think about a topic you've tried teaching to a student that just didn't seem to click for them or that you have trouble finding multiple ways to explain it. We'll use the theories I'll be presenting to brainstorm ways to teach those tricky topics.
- December 3, Tiandra Jones (guest): RU1st Tiandra is the Assistant Director for Student Support Services. She will discuss the RU1st initiative for first-generation college students.
- November 26, Chloe Wawrzyniak, Matthew Russell, and Edna Jones: P2/C2 Review. We're going to discuss some updates on the various P2C2 (Precalculus to Calculus 2) efforts, named after the MAA studies by the same name. Our department is undergoing considerable changes in these courses, with a large focus on adding active learning and other evidence-based teaching techniques like flipped classrooms.
- November 19, Debbie Huisman and Lorren Whitaker (guests): Office of Disabilities Services. We'll have a presentation about the process of getting accommodations and answer questions about appropriately accommodating the needs of our students.
- November 12, Brian Pinsky: Class Observations. We'll debrief on our observations of other instructors' classes.
- November 5, Corrine Yap: EQUIP App. We'll be discussing inclusive practices in the classroom from a couple of different perspectives. One is a data-driven perspective and, in particular, the EQUIP App - how can it be used, is it useful, and how should (or shouldn't) its results influence our teaching? The other is a more global perspective: how should society and culture influence our actions in the classroom? How do we (and should we even) address topics like social justice and identity in the math classroom?
- October 29, Matthew Russell: Experimental Calculus Section Update. Matthew is teaching an experimental section of Math 151 this semester; He will talk about how it has gone so far. He will touch on both what has worked and what hasn't.
- October 22, Chloe Wawrzyniak: Inclusive Language in the Classroom. We will be talking about inclusive language in the classroom. This is a big topic, so we'll be focusing on some examples of marginalizing language to avoid.
- October 15, Yael Davidov: Readings on Equity and Retention. We discuss readings on some actionable reforms related to retention of minority students and consider how practically they might be carried out at Rutgers.
- October 8, Professor Robert Beals (guest): Course Architecture and Honors Sections.
- October 1, Matthew Russell: Student Perspectives of Performance. How do we get students to have realistic yet positive perspectives of their abilities and performance? Related readings will be posted on Canvas.
- September 24, Corrine Yap: Syllabi. We will be studying several syllabi from different classes at Rutgers, as well as an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on how to write a syllabi, and discussing.
- September 17, Chloe Wawrzyniak: Teaching Freshmen How to Be Successful College Students We will be discussing strategies for teaching students how to college. Specific points of conversation include teaching students how to send appropriate and helpful emails, discussing what office hours are and how to make the most of them, and other general life/student skills we should be teaching students (e.g. time-management).