SUMMIT-P: Partnering Engineering and Mathematics at Virginia Commonwealth University

Rebecca Segal
Professor and Interim Chair
Virginia Commonwealth University

In conjunction with the Committee on Curriculum Renewal Across the First Two Years (CRAFTY) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), a consortium of institutions is working to revise and improve the lower division undergraduate mathematics curriculum. SUMMIT-P is
that national consortium for Synergistic Undergraduate Mathematics via Multi-institutional Interdisciplinary Teaching Partnerships. The key element of these innovations is interdisciplinary partnerships, with partner disciplines directly involved in decisions about curricular needs. These fifteen institutions are collaborating to:
• Implement major recommendations from the MAA Curriculum Foundations (CF) Project for the purpose of broadening participation in and institutional capacity for STEM learning;
• Foster a network of faculty and programs in order to promote shared experiences and ideas for successfully creating functional interdisciplinary partnerships within and across institutions;
• Change the undergraduate mathematics curriculum in ways that support improved STEM learning for all students; and,
• Monitor impact on faculty and students.

Guiding Questions
The project examines how to create an effective interdisciplinary partnership to impact curricular change. Specifically, the project is addressing the following research questions:
1. What are the beliefs of faculty concerning the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations, particularly in relation to curriculum development/improvement in lower division undergraduate courses? Do faculty attitudes change as a result of collaborations across departments?
2. What steps are effective for creating robust faculty collaborations? Can we identify lynchpin components for extension to other institutions?
3. To what extent have the affected courses and student learning/attitudes in those courses improved? Have these components supported meaningful and authentic collaborations across the disciplines?
4. Are there different considerations required for different mathematics courses and different partnering disciplines?

VCU has documented a consistent increase in student attitudes relative to the relevance of the content in differential equations regarding further course and for their careers after college. Student surveys of engineering students reveal greater retention of knowledge about differential equation content. Engineer faculty surveys note a change in attitudes relative to the engagement of the mathematics faculty.

Broader Impacts
The work at VCU has impacted over 2,500 undergraduate students across 5 cohort years of engineering majors. The curriculum development and partnership experience from VCU has been shared across the SUMMIT-P consortium of 15 institutions. Our grant members at VCU have collaborated on dissemination of the work via webinars and workshops, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed articles, resulting in 6 peer-reviewed publications, 10 conference presentations, and have numerous additional research manuscripts currently under review.


Afroditi V. Filippas, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Laura Ellwein Fix, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA