Budget Proposal Narrative Division: CSE / Mathematics. Enhancement of First Year Math Instruction

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Budget Proposal Narrative

Division: CSE / Mathematics

Proposal Title:

Enhancement of First Year Math Instruction

Statement of Purpose:

To enhance the effectiveness of the Math courses typically taken by

students during their first year of study at Western, namely Math 99 through Honors calculus (but not statistics). We aim to improve overall WWU student retention and graduation rates by improving student success in their beginning Math courses. In many of these classes the D/F/W rate is well over 33% - see the appendix for some more detailed data. We seek to remedy this situation through a variety of initiatives. This proposal concerns two of the central initiatives; the third is the adoption of an on-line math placement testing and remedial math skill building system, ALEKS, which we anticipate implementing during the next academic year.

Solutions to this problem are complicated by the fact that these courses are almost exclusively taught by NTT faculty, whose responsibilities do not extend beyond their immediate classroom instruction and who have neither the expertise nor the authority to affect significant lasting changes in the relevant program. The very low TT/NTT ratio in Mathematics (only 23% of Math SCH are currently delivered by TT faculty) makes it impossible to assign existing TT faculty to teach these classes or address these issues, which in any event requires expertise in remedial and college-level Math education that existing TT faculty generally lack.

We propose to remedy the situation by:

(i) appointing a tenured faculty member (Director of First Year Math Instruction: see attached job description; essentially an expert in remedial and college-level Math education) whose primary responsibilities, besides teaching a reduced load of classes, will be to provide oversight over this range of classes, addressing issues such as curricular and program development, textbooks and technological support, consistency across different sections of student learning outcomes and challenge levels, student math placement, instructional modes, support for at-risk students, and professional development for the instructors, including the GTAs;

(ii) funding a small faculty taskforce for each of the next three years to work on revising the relevant course contents and instructional modes, and in particular devising new materials and student activities to enhance the effectiveness of these courses. These classes are almost exclusively taught by NTT faculty, thus funding is required to get them involved in course developments beyond their teaching duties. At the same time these activities constitute professional development for the faculty involved. Anticipated cost: 3 x $30,000.

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Anticipated Outcome(s):

Under the guidance of the Director, the program of beginning Math classes will evolve to serve more effectively and more consistently the needs of the students in these classes, and thus the needs of the units whose students are served by these classes. Both the classes themselves and the skills of those who deliver the classes will be enhanced, resulting in higher student success rates and more rapid student progress into classes beyond their preparatory Math classes.

Metrics:

Student success rates in the relevant courses are easily measured. In most cases we would distinguish between the categories F/W, D, and above, since for GUR purposes a D is acceptable and sometimes that is all students strive for. We also hope to see a reduction in the number of seats offered in these classes since fewer students will need to repeat failed classes.

How does this project support the University Mission and Strategic Objectives?

This proposal addresses all of WWU’s strategic goals, but in particular supports the following: (i) crafting a student-centered program that more effectively meets the needs

and develops the potential of individuals of diverse backgrounds; (ii) builds on Western’s strengths to address critical needs in the State of

Washington, by enhancing student success rates and thus facilitating student progress into classes beyond their preparatory Math classes;

(iii) expand student access to rigorous and engaging baccalaureate and graduate education, by increasing the effectiveness of these classes, reducing pressure on these classes, and more rapidly and successfully transitioning students into more advanced courses;

(iv) foster and promote life-long learning and success in an ever-changing world, by making it easier for students to acquire the associated mathematical skills and understanding;

(v) apply Western’s expertise and collaborative approach to scholarship, creativity, and research in ways that strengthen communities beyond the campus, by engaging the relevant instructors in course developments that enhance the effectiveness of these courses in meeting the entire range of needs of increasingly diverse groups of learners;

(vi) serve as a model for institutional effectiveness, innovation, diversity, and sustainability, by introducing a tenured position directly responsible for oversight and development of the beginning level Math courses, program, and the associated instruction and professional development.

This position aligns closely with the strategic plan of the College of Science and Engineering, notably in the domains of teaching, curriculum and diversity identified in those goals (the latter through enhancing the inclusive nature of the instructional approaches), as well as the resource domain by explicitly assigning TT faculty to take a leading role in these lower level classes.

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What are the consequences of not funding this package?

The beginning Math program will remain somewhat rudderless, with little incentive or guidance for NTT faculty to modernize the curriculum and modes of instruction and to otherwise make the program more effective. Instructional changes made would continue to be confined to particular instructors and likely fade away due to the fairly high rate of turnover of instructors, especially GTAs.

What alternatives were explored and why was this alternative chosen?

We could assign an existing TT faculty member to this task. However, we have a desperate shortage of TT faculty in Math (in 2014-15 only 23% of Math SCH were provided by TT faculty), which is exactly why the courses in question are almost exclusively taught by NTT faculty. Also, most TT faculty lack the necessary skills and interest, and those who do are in Math Education and overloaded. Thus we need to make a permanent appointment of an individual with expertise in remedial and college-level Math education who will have the responsibility and authority to initiate and sustain change in the program and to provide professional development for the instructors.

Which units (departments, colleges, etc.) will be involved?

None directly outside of Math, but guidance will be sought in the context of developments in and the effectiveness of service courses for units such as STEM departments, CBE, and relevant CHSS and WCE units.

List any external advocates:

None.

Equipment:

None.

Space Requirements:

one faculty office; we do not have space within the department.

Attachment: D/F/W Rates for Math 112 and 114, academic years 2013-14 and 2014-2015

Academic Year: 2013-2014 2014-2015 Student # % Student # % Math 112 1398 100 1533 100 D 255 18 287 19 F 210 15 210 14 W 146 10 168 11 Math 114 1141 100 1196 100 D 134 12 171 14 F 116 10 105 9 W 129 11 160 13

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Director of First Year Math Instruction.

Context:

All math classes below the level of calculus are taught by NTT faculty, as are all sections of Calculus 1 (Math 124) and Calculus 2 (Math 125), and (for 2016-17) all but one section of Calculus 3 (Math 224). NTT faculty are generally not paid to do anything but teach, thus there has been a deficit of curricular and program development, and general program oversight, over this range of courses, which serve a very large number of students across a wide range of academic disciplines. There has similarly been a lack of professional development for these instructors. We seek to rectify this undesirable situation. The situation described above is due to the highly skewed TT/NTT faculty ratio in the Department of Mathematics, the result of which is that TT faculty are stretched to cover even upper division courses. The following analysis of the TT/NTT SCH generation ratio in the Department of Mathematics refers to the academic year 2014-15, with data from Factbook. In that year TN/TT faculty generated only 10,984 out of 47,699 SCH, or 23%. The next lowest ratio in CSE is in Chemistry at 36 %.

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1. What area would this be in i.e. classes taught, research focus?

Beginning and core level math classes from remedial and college algebra through calculus. The position focus will be on enhancing the quality of the student experience in those classes, with a view to improving student success, satisfaction, retention and progress. Other duties include student recruitment, advisement and support for both at-risk and high potential students. 2. What pressures/access/enrollment challenges would it help you meet?

It enables us to have TT faculty involved in the teaching, coordination and enhancement of the critical lower level service courses and core courses. These courses and programs are almost exclusively taught by NTT, who are not paid to do curriculum development and the like. These programs need more TT oversight to better meet the needs of our students. Issues such as the program structure, curricula, textbooks, technological support, instructional modes, professional development of the instructors, student placement, and greater consistency of standards and student learning outcomes, all need to be addressed. This is best done by TT faculty.

3. How does this fit within the strategic goals of the college and your department?

It addresses the areas of curriculum, diversity and teaching identified in the CSE strategic plan. In particular I anticipate adjustments to the relevant programs to better serve the needs of the increasingly diverse group of students now entering the university.

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Tenure-track position: Director of First Year Math Instruction

1. Rationale for a tenure – track (as opposed to a contract hire) position: (a) Permanence of funding, hence on-going existence of the position and role (b) Higher salary scale, to attract suitably qualified and experienced personnel (c) Continuity of personnel in the role, to benefit from their local experience

(d) Credibility and authority for the individual both within and outside the department (e) Expectations for and access to grant funding and professional development

(f) Expectations for scholarship and staying abreast of the field 2. Desired qualifications

(a) PhD in Mathematics Education with a strong background in Mathematics (comparable to MS in Math), or in Mathematics or a related field with strong credentials related to curricular and pedagogical issues in the teaching of mathematics at the first year college level

(b) Record of productive involvement in curricular and pedagogical issues in the teaching of mathematics at the first year college level

(c) Successful experience in professional development of mathematics instructors (d) Record of successful teaching of first year mathematics courses

3. Job Description

The individual is expected to take a leading role in shaping and coordinating our instructional efforts in the beginning math classes through Math 125 and the honors calculus classes. In order to do this, s/he will have to be very familiar with those classes, which means s/he will need to teach those classes with some regularity. There will be a transition time for the individual to become acquainted with those courses before major program contributions can be expected. In particular, the teaching load for the first two years may be heavier than that suggested below. (a) Teach one math class per quarter, and teach the GTA teacher preparation class

(b) Provide professional development for instructors of first year math classes (c) Pursue grants to fund professional development of instructors

(d) Observe classes and provide teaching guidance for GTAs and NTT

(e) Facilitate establishment, dissemination and adherence to desired SLOs for each class (f) Facilitate developments in program structure, instructional materials and approaches (g) Enhance diversity by attracting and supporting at risk students, under-represented groups of

students and first generation students. This may include tutoring or organizing other extra-curricular activities.

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