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Lessons from a Lower-division Mathematics Co-teaching Sequence

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mathematics Division Technical Session 1: Best Practices in Engineering Math Education

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Paper Authors


Charles Lam California State University, Bakersfield

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Dr. Charles C.Y. Lam is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics. Dr. Lam received his Ph.D. in Combinatorics and Optimization from the University of Waterloo. His research areas are in cryptography, digital watermarking, and STEM education. He is the PI for the NSF IUSE grant (NSF-DUE 1430398) for STEM retention, and the co-PI for the NSF Federal Cyber Service grant (NSF-DUE1241636) to create models for information assurance education and outreach. He is currently the Project Director for Department of Education HSI-STEM Award P031C160080 (A Guided Pathway Solution to STEM Degree Completion). He has mentored various undergraduate student researchers as a faculty mentor for the LSAMP and McNair Scholars Program. He has extensive experience in curriculum assessment, undergraduate curriculum development, and student mentoring.

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Melissa Danforth California State University, Bakersfield

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Melissa Danforth is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). Dr. Danforth was the PI for a NSF Federal Cyber Service grant (NSF-DUE1241636) to create models for information assurance education and outreach. Dr. Danforth was the Project Director for a U.S. Department of Education grant (P031S100081) to create engineering pathways for students in the CSUB service area. She was also the co-PI for an NSF IUSE grant for STEM retention (NSF-DUE 1430398) and the co-PD for multiple U.S. Department of Education grants related to engineering education and outreach. Her research interests are focused on network and system security, particularly with respects to protecting mission-critical resources and services. She is also conducting research in applying biological concepts to cybersecurity, such as artificial immune systems.

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Ronald Hughes California State University, Bakersfield

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(2017-Present) Associate Professor for the STEM Affinity Group, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, California State University, Bakersfield. Duties included teaching responsibilities in Undergraduate Biology. Additional duties included grant writing, management, and evaluation.

Include teaching and learning cognition skills, informal learning environments and strategies, and science/technology curriculum design/implementation/evaluation.

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California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) is a mid-sized public comprehensive university located in a region with low education achievement according to U.S. Census data. As a result, students entering STEM programs have low levels in mathematical preparation, and have low awareness in the relationship between mathematics and their respective science disciplines. The four-course sequence of precalculus and single variable calculus are a serious hurdle for students to pursue their respective STEM majors. Many students place at the precalculus level and many have to repeat one or more courses in the sequence to pass the courses, which delays their progress into their STEM majors.

Co-teaching in STEM has been studied in the literature to bring benefits to both students and teachers [1, 2]. As part of the activities for its NSF IUSE grant, CSUB has devised a pilot co-teaching program between Mathematics and Science Faculty in precalculus and calculus classes. Students in these classes were taught jointly by a Mathematics faculty member and a faculty member in Chemistry, Engineering, or Physics. The program pairs up the faculty members in precalculus 1, 2 (college algebra and trigonometry) and calculus 1, 2 (single variable calculus - differential calculus and integral calculus) with each of the disciplines, resulting in 12 co-teaching classes. Each class is required to produce a set of self-contained classroom activities involving concepts from the respective disciplines that can be used by the mathematics faculty members. Then, another set of mathematics faculty members used the products in their standalone classes without co-teaching to test the activities.

The execution of the program faced multiple challenges, both due to the nature of the program and to unrelated issues at CSUB during the grant period. Issues include variability in staffing, less availability of faculty members as the student body expands, faculty buy-in, and scheduling conflicts. Eventually, all classes were offered within the grant period.

Qualitative data were collected in co-teaching classes through surveys and interviews with students and faculty members separately. The authors are analyzing the interview transcripts and survey data to summarize findings in this co-teaching strategy. Initial analysis of interview data show that faculty members from mathematics gained understanding from the sciences on the skills needed for success, while the science faculty members gained understanding of what exact skills students learn in the respective mathematics courses. It has created a co-operative culture between faculty members that has led to other opportunities for collaboration. Faculty members interviewed also noted that the model is adaptable to other combinations of disciplines. Initial analysis of student survey data shows that the students appreciated seeing mathematics applied to science and engineering.

This paper will discuss the lessons learned during the execution of the co-teaching program, including the challenges faced during the program, and the findings from assessment.

Lam, C., & Danforth, M., & Hughes, R. (2020, June), Lessons from a Lower-division Mathematics Co-teaching Sequence Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34907

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