Friday, November 7, 2014

New: Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Mathematics

Doing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Mathematics

Jacqueline M. Dewar and Curtis D. Bennett, Editors

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) movement encourages faculty to view teaching “problems” as invitations to conduct scholarly investigations. In this growing field of inquiry faculty bring their disciplinary knowledge and teaching experience to bear on questions of teaching and learning. They systematically gather evidence to develop and support their conclusions. The results are to be peer reviewed and made public for others to build on.

This Notes volume is written expressly for collegiate mathematics faculty who want to know more about conducting scholarly investigations into their teaching and their students’ learning. Conceived and edited by two mathematics faculty, the volume serves as a how-to guide for doing SoTL in mathematics.

The four chapters in Part I provide background on this form of scholarship and specific instructions for undertaking a SoTL investigation in mathematics. Part II contains fifteen examples of SoTL projects in mathematics from fourteen different institutions, both public and private, spanning the spectrum of higher educational institutions from community colleges to research universities. These chapters “reveal the process of doing SoTL” by illustrating many of the concepts, issues, methods and procedures discussed in Part I. An Editors’ Commentary opens each contributed chapter to highlight one or more aspects of the process of doing SoTL revealed within. Toward the end of each chapter the contributing authors describe the benefits that accrued to them and their careers from participating in SoTL.

The final chapter in the volume, the Epilogue, represents a synthesis by the editors of the contributing authors’ perceptions of the value of SoTL. This volume has two goals: to assist mathematics faculty interested in undertaking a scholarly study of their teaching practice and to promote a greater understanding of this work and its value to the mathematics community.



Purchase your copy today at the MAA eBooks Store.

Friday, October 17, 2014

MAA Books Beat: Stories at the Heart of Teaching

Written by Steve Kennedy, MAA Acquisitions Editor, Stories at the Heart of Teaching appears in the October/November 2014 issue of MAA FOCUS.


Steve Willoughby taught mathematics for 59 years at every level from elementary school to graduate school. He is a keen and perceptive observer and a witty and talented storyteller. And, man, after 59 years does he have some stories to tell in Textbooks, Testing, Training: How We Discourage Thinking. 

From a fourth-grade book on a page titled “Divided By 6”:

Twelve turkeys. Six turkeys in each cage. How many cages?

There was a picture on the page with the right number of cages so that exactly six turkeys could be, and were, placed into each with no leftover turkeys. The teachers’ guide directed that any student who wrote the answer without writing “12 ÷ 6 = 2” was to be marked wrong. Fortunately, because of the title at the top of the page and four years of intensive schooling, no child would have an urge to read the problem. There are two numbers. One is 6. Certainly 12 must be divided by 6 and the problem is solved to the satisfaction of all concerned without a single thought passing through the head of anyone involved or of any child making the heinous error of counting the cages depicted.

Did the authors really suppose that if somebody wanted to know how many cages there were, he would count the turkeys, count how many are in each cage, and, upon discovering the unlikely fact that the same number were in each cage, would divide the first number by the second?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tom Sinclair Reviews Textbooks, Testing, Training: How We Discourage Thinking

Tom Sinclair reviewed Textbook, Testing, Training: How we Discourage Thinking by Stephen S. Willoughby as part of MAA Reviews.

"This short book recounts many specific true stories from my fifty-nine years of teaching that I believe cast some light on what is wrong with American education and perhaps some clues as to what might improve it." (p. 1)

This is an incisive yet readable critique of the American education system. Willoughby writes from the perspective of six decades of experience. He knows that the best way to persuade someone is to tell them a story. The author illustrates his points with anecdotes from his own experience and those of his colleagues.

Two things surprised me about this book. First, Willoughby's writing captures the teaching experience to perfection. I often found myself nodding with familiarity as I read. The second surprise is the humor. Willoughby writes with a dry, ironic sensibility that remains warm and inviting. Even when describing his frustrations he never descends into cynicism.

Willoughby breaks down the problem with our education system into three broad categories. Doing education right is a complex problem with a complex solution. He presents ways that we teachers can be part of that solution.

Read the full review here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New: Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens

Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens
Knots and Borromean Rings, Rep-Tiles, and Eight Queens
Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner's fifteen volumes about Mathematical Games are The Canon – timeless classics that are always worth reading and rereading. —Don Knuth

I recommend you approach this book on a Sunday afternoon with paper and pen a few biscuits for brain-power and a good hour to spare for puzzling. It is worth it. —Charlotte Mulcare, +plus Magazine


The hangman’s paradox, cat’s cradle, gambling, peg solitaire, pi and e—all these and more are back in Martin Gardner’s inimitable style, with updates on new developments and discoveries. Read about how knots and molecules are related; take a trip into the fourth dimension; try out new dissections of stars, crosses, and polygons; and challenge yourself with new twists on classic games.


This volume includes updates by Martin Gardner, Peter Renz, Greg Frederickson, and Erica Flapan. New illustrations have been included and replace some of the older illustrations. The references have been updated.

Friday, September 5, 2014

MAA Top Selling Books

Check out this year's top 15 bestsellers.

1. 101 Careers in Mathematics, 3rd Ed
Andrew Sterrett, Editor

2. Math through the Ages
William Berlinghoff and Fernando GouvĂȘa

3. Game Theory and Strategy
Philip D. Straffin, Jr.

4. Mathematical Interest Theory
Leslie Jane Federer Vaaler & James Daniel

5. New Horizons in Geometry
Tom M. Apostol and Mamikon A. Mnatsakanian

6. Learning Modern Algebra
Al Cuoco and Joseph Rotman

7. Number Theory through Inquiry
David C. Marshall, Edward Odell, & Michael Starbird

8. Geometry Revisited
H.S.M. Coxeter & S.L. Greitzer

9. Exploring Advanced Euclidean Geometry with GeoGebra
Gerard Venema

10. First Steps for Math Olympians
J. Douglas Faires

11. Mathematics for Secondary School Teachers
Elizabeth George Bremigan, Ralph Bremigan, and John Lorch

12. Beyond the Quadratic Formula
Ron Irving

13. Combinatorics:
A Guided Tour

David R. Mazur

14. Ordinary Differential Equations: From Calculus to Dynamical Systems
Virginia W. Noonburg

15. Functions, Data, and Models
Sheldon P. Gordon and Florence S. Gordon