Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Use the MAA Instructional Practices Guide to Maximize Student Engagement with Math

By guest bloggers Martha Abell, Georgia Southern University, and Linda Braddy, Tarrant County College

If you enjoy Teaching Tidbits, be sure to get an electronic copy of the Mathematical Association of America Instructional Practices Guide, which is chock full of great ideas to help you and your students. The guide is available as a free download on the MAA website. The MAA IP Guide is intended for all instructors of mathematics:
  • New graduate teaching assistants 
  • Experienced senior instructors 
  • Contingent faculty member at a two-year institution 
  • New faculty member at a doctoral-granting institution 
  • Instructors who want to transform their own teaching 
  • Mathematicians delivering professional development to colleagues
The guide boldly responds to challenges articulated in the 2014 INGenIOuS report and the 2016 Common Vision report, which both call for transformation within the mathematical sciences community toward deeper, more meaningful learning experiences. The MAA IP Guide was written by faculty from a wide range of institutions and professional associations. It supports the use of evidence-based instructional strategies to actively engage students in the learning process by providing “how to” suggestions. The supporting research focuses on effective teaching, deep student learning and student engagement with the mathematics both inside and outside the classroom.

The content organization is based on three interconnected foundations of effective teaching: classroom practices, assessment practices, and course design practices. It also addresses two key cross-cutting themes, technology and equity, that permeate all three practice areas.

The Classroom Practices chapter provides multiple entry points to help instructors implement practices that foster student engagement. Topics include building community within the classroom, using collaborative learning strategies, developing persistence in problem-solving, and selecting appropriate tasks.

The Assessment Practices chapter offers guiding principles to assess student learning through both summative and formative assessments. Most instructors routinely employ summative assessments such as quizzes and exams, but some may not be as familiar with formative assessment practices which can inform their decisions during the course regarding “next steps” in instruction based on students’ current needs.

The Design Practices chapter guides instruction planning and revision to maximize student learning. Each chapter includes vignettes, practical tips, and references to research-based studies that support the effectiveness of the practices. Each chapter also offers strategies for trying new instructional methods and avoiding common pitfalls.

The MAA IP Guide will be a topic of discussion at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego in January 2018, most notably at the MAA Invited Paper Session on this topic, Thursday from 8:00-10:50. The writing team is excited to present this resource to the community in support of deep, meaningful experiences for all instructors and students. We promote the use of engaging instructional practices in your own department by sharing this resource with your colleagues!