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. 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 and measure impact on faculty and students.
The project examines the effects of interdisciplinary partnerships within and across institutions to impact curricular change. Specifically, the project is addressing the following research questions:
1. What are the beliefs of consortium faculty concerning the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations, particularly in relation to curriculum development/improvement in lower division undergraduate courses?
2. To what extent are institutions implementing and supporting interdisciplinary collaborations? Is there evidence to support the sustainability of these collaborations? What components of an interdisciplinary environment are in place at each institution, and which should be addressed for continued improvement?
3. To what extent have faculty learning communities (FLCs), in particular those across colleges and institutions, been created and maintained? What benefits have been observed from the use of FLCs? What factors foster or inhibit these FLCs?
4. To what extent have the affected courses and student learning/attitudes in those courses improved? How have the FLCs impacted strategies for increasing participation more broadly in STEM courses? Have these components supported meaningful and authentic collaborations across the disciplines?
SUMMIT-P institutions have revised and improved their institution’s lower division mathematics courses. Partner discipline colleagues at each institution are directly involved in decisions about curricular changes, with FLCs using fishbowl discussions, wish lists, and site visits to better understand the needs of students as they progress through the undergraduate program. Outcomes indicate that the interdisciplinary materials offer significant support for individualized learner groups, and that participating faculty are taking more ownership of developing course materials that create a seamless STEM curriculum.
The consortium has impacted over 40,000 undergraduate students and 250 college faculty across 22 distinct courses and 15 unique partner disciplines. The knowledge from and processes used in the emerging SUMMIT-P model have been disseminated via webinars and workshops, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed articles, authored by multidisciplinary, multi-institutional teams in the form of a) four refereed journal special issues that include over 25 SUMMIT-P articles; b) more than 20 additional peer-reviewed publications; and c) numerous additional research manuscripts currently under review. The consortium has a forthcoming scholarly volume (to be published in the MAA Notes series) that contains detailed application-based units for adoption in mathematics courses at a wide variety of institutional types.
Bill Haver, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Victor Piercey, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI