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Closing the Loop

Implementing Assessment Results

During the last six years, the Department of Mathematics has undergone two five year reviews.  In each of these reviews, the external reviewers have provided the department with recommendations that they felt could be used to make a strong program even stronger.  During AY 2009 – 2010 the department  has attempted, to the extent possible, to implement these recommendations. 

The pages that follow list the recommendations made by the external reviewers in 2004 and 2009, and describes the efforts that the Mathematics Department has made to implement these suggestions.  Clearly, SUNY’s budgetary hardships have made it very difficult, if not impossible, to implement several of these proposals:  e.g. new faculty lines in mathematics education and statistics.  None the less, we have made progress in quite a few of these areas, and are positioned well to implement several others.  In addition, there are a few that the department is currently discussing internally in an effort to be sure that changes suggested are, in fact, in the best interests of our students and the college as a whole.


Recommendations From 5-year program review – spring 2009

“Geneseo has asked much from the Mathematics Department.  The department has been required to provide superior training for mathematics education majors, prepare a second cohort for graduate school, offer masters candidates an applicable degree in mathematics education, effectively teach terminal mathematics coursework for all natural science majors, lead in the mathematical instruction of childhood educators, and inspire students in the humanities with its general education coursework in mathematics.  The burden falls on a limited number of faculty members who work hard to balance ever-increasing responsibilities of teaching, service, and research.

 

To maintain such a superb level of performance will be difficult for the department, particularly in extremely difficult budget times where resources may not be readily (if ever) available.  We are confident, however, that with support from the Geneseo administration the department can move from excellent to extraordinary.  Our recommendations outlined below are made with this in mind---moving from the excellent to the extraordinary.[1|#ftn1]”_



Recommendation 1: [Minimal expense] Pre-service teachers within the department need more exposure to ‘authentic’ teaching and outreach experiences earlier in their careers. While student teaching is often transformational as a capstone experience, earlier clinical experiences either as a part of targeted coursework or through PRISM are necessary and rewarding. 

Action:  Students enrolled in INTD 302 spend time working with middle school students at Geneseo Central School as a part of class requirements.  We will continue to pursue relationships. Additional  interaction of this type needs to be implemented.

Recommendation 2: [Minimal cost, but diplomacy needed]  With such a large annual cohort in mathematics education, pre-service mathematics teachers would be better served if state-mandated requirements in literacy and technology were tailored for pre-service teachers in mathematics. 

Action:  A substantial portion of the state mandated instruction in the appropriate use of technology has been moved into INTD 302 so that it can be presented in a content specific context.  In addition, Dr. Sutherland has recently established a relationship with Texas Instruments through which she conducted, last fall, a pair of seminars that instructed student teachers in the effective usage of a new technology, the TI – Inspire, and which procured for the department a set of 30 Inspire/CAS calculators that are on the cutting edge of this variety of technology.

We are closely watching the enrollment figures for secondary education to determine if we can justify requesting a section of EDUC 215, Foundations of Literacy, to be taught in a math-specific manner.

Recommendation 3: [Significant cost] An additional faculty member in mathematics education should be hired as soon as possible.

Action:  We have requested this position for the past two years and will continue to do so.

Recommendation 4: [No immediate cost, but potentially costs in the long term] Undertake a thorough re-examination of the program and coursework offered in the Master of Science-Secondary Mathematics Education Program currently provided at SUNY Geneseo, and subsequently make fundamental changes.

Action:  This is well under way. We have been collaborating with several members of the School of Education to formulate a revised MS.Ed. program that we feel will better serve our graduate students.  It will include the current number of required content courses, but includes a substantial component in teaching mathematics to students with special needs. The program revision is very nearly complete and will be submitted to the College Senate this fall.  In additional we have appointed an ad hoc committee to re-evaluate each of the graduate mathematics courses to determine whether or not they need to be revised or dropped from the curriculum. 

Recommendation 5: [Significant cost] Hire a statistician.

Action:  We will request permission to conduct a search for a tenure track linefor a statistician.

Recommendation 6: [Little cost] Create mathematics minor tracks for various majors across campus.

Action:  We recently added a minor in Bio-mathematics and are in the process of assessing its success.  We then plan to open discussions with other department/programs (chemistry, physics, economics) to evaluate the viability of such programs.

Recommendation 7: [Little cost] Improve advising.

Action:  In order to insure that each student gets at least one comprehensive advisement session, the department chair now conducts all pre-graduation checks.  This, along with the “hold” on registration now being imposed by the Dean’s Office, is a first step implementing this recommendation.

Recommendation 8: [Little cost at this point] Continue to develop courses and concepts about an honors program; however, remain carefully aware of how the Honors Program will fit with the total departmental program.

Action:  Honors Mathematics I and II were offered for the first time during AY 2009 – 2010.  In addition, we have begun work on Honors Mathematics III and IV and plan to submit proposals for these two new courses in Fall 2010.  In the mean time Honors Mathematics III will be offered in the fall as Math 388 – Experimental.

Recommendation 9: [Relatively little cost] Consider enhancing the current Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program whereby a single Supplemental Instructor offers recitation services to small groups of students in introductory and intermediate level mathematics courses under the direction of a mentoring professor. 

Action:  No action as yet.  The department participated in the SI program during 2008 – 2009, however we don’t believe that AOP continued the program this year.

Recommendation 10: [Little cost] Continue experimenting with guided discovery techniques of instruction.

Action:  The department is supporting one of its newest faculty, Professor Rault, is his pursuit in this area.  He has a mentor, Walker White from Cornell, who is skilled in Inquiry-Based learning (IBL).  They meet regularly and it appears that both professors have seen steady improvement in Professor Rault’s instruction.  In addition, we have proposed to the Provost that Dr. Rault and Dr. Nicodemi team teach a section of Math 239, Introduction to Proof, in the fall.  This will allow for Dr. Rault to continue to have a mentor and will also allow Dr. Nicodemi to learn some of the techniques of IBL.

Recommendation 11: [Modest cost] Establish structured support for travel and presentation opportunities for exceptional students. 

Action:  Funding issues have placed this on hold.

Recommendation 12: [Modest cost] Connect with and stay connected with departmental graduates.

Action:  With encouragement from faculty, the student mathematics organization, PRISM, founded a Facebook Page this spring (2010) which has already been joined by over 200 present and former students.  We hope to use this to maintain contact to our graduates in greater numbers than we have in the past.

Major Recommendations from 5-Year Program Review Spring 2004

 

1.       Establish a strong applied statistics course

Math 260, a non-calculus based statistics course,  was dropped from our course offerings in 2007 and replaced by Math 262, Applied Statistics, based on the model suggested by the reviewers.

2.       Strongly encourage students to apply for a summer REU and other such programs
This has been implemented successfully in each of the last several years.  We have had students apply to an be accepted by programs across the country, including Trinity University in San Antonio, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska, the University of North Carolina, and several others.

3.      Offer a capstone  course for seniors that includes a research project.
In 2006 we added Math 348 to out course offerings.  While not exactly a “capstone course, it does require a research paper and a requirement that the research be presented at some sort of forum.  About 30 mathematics majors will be presenting at great day next week, most of whom are presenting work that resulted from Math 348.

4.      Establish an honors sequence in calculus
This is a work in progress.  In we have already established Honors Math I and II which, when completed qualifies a student for any course that has a prerequisite of Calculus I, II, or III.  In addition the student meets the prerequisite for entry into an couse for which  Math 239 is required.  We are currently in the process of submitting that paper work to add Honors Math III and IV to out course offerings, which will result in a four course, 16 credit honors sequence in mathematics which will provide a very strong background for students planning graduate study in mathematics.


[1|#ftnref1] From _Report of the External Reviewers, April 2009.

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