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Elizabeth Jones, Lyn Riverstone, Daniel Rockwell, Katy Williams and Sara Clark in front of research poster.

Mathematics at the 2019 Undergraduate Student Success Summit

Feature photo (from left to right): Elizabeth Jones, Lyn Riverstone, Daniel Rockwell, Katy Williams and Sara Clark at the poster session outside the MU Horizon room. This article was created by the Newsletter/Media Committee with photo editing by Joy King. Please email with any comments.

Since 2015, OSU has undertaken two major Undergraduate Student Success Initiative (USSI) efforts. First, a fundraising initiative in partnership with the OSU Foundation to raise $150 million to support student success and second, a series of academic interventions intended to bolster student success directly through expanded student support services, particularly related to advising and financial aid, or indirectly through changes in learning models and provision to instructors and administrators of better and more timely data.

Oregon State recently hosted the 2019 Undergraduate Student Success Summit focusing on five themes: Transition experiences, financial aid and scholarships, faculty-student engagement, curricular excellence and experiential learning. The Department of Mathematics made several contributions to the event. The event brought together administrators, faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students to discuss ways to enhance the student experience and outcomes at OSU. Katy Williams, Instructor of mathematics, enjoyed the sense of community that was created by the summit.

“What I really enjoyed about the event was the fact that everyone was brought together. It was like we all had a seat at the table. There aren’t many instances in which instructional faculty, administrators, and support staff all get to be in the same room and discuss strategies for student success. That was really exciting and I hope there will be more of this in the future!” -Katy Williams

Mathematics instructors Sara Clark, Lyn Riverstone and Katy Williams, presented a talk on Fostering Community in College Algebra. The instructors, along with a panel of current and former College Algebra students, discussed how the students in College Algebra make lasting friendships, build mathematical confidence and become more self-reliant in their learning. Williams felt that “bringing in student voices really gave a unique perspective on active learning, the student experience in College Algebra, and the community in our classes.”

Several members of the Mathematics Department also gave lighting talks at the summit. Wendy Aaron, Mathematics & Statistics Learning Center (MSLC) Coordinator, gave a presentation about the student support provided in the MSLC. Graduate student Naveen Somasunderam, along with Professor Vrushali Bokil, provided an overview of the directed reading program network which pairs undergraduate student and graduate student mentors to explore interesting mathematical readings. Finally, Senior Instructor Dan Rockwell, presented along with Susan Fein of Ecampus about digital photo hunts in online College Algebra.

Wendy Aaron presenting in front of a projector.

Wendy Aaron talks about student support in the MSLC.

Rounding out the summit day, Sara Clark, along with Elizabeth Jones, mathematics instructor for the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP), and Cub Kahn, OSU Hybrid Initiative Coordinator, facilitated a round table discussion thinking beyond the traditional textbook order of topics when redesigning a course.

Clark, Jones, Riverstone, Rockwell, and Williams also presented a poster highlighting the benefits to students and faculty of the online grading tool Gradescope.

Mathematics Instructors Participate in a AMS Conference in Florida -- Sara Clark, Lyn Riverstone, Dan Rockwell, and Katy Williams were also part of the “Main Attraction” at the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges’, AMATYC, 44th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida this past November. AMATYC’s mission is to “provide high quality professional development, to advocate and collaborate at all levels, and to build communities of learners for all involved in mathematics education in the first two years of college”.

Clark, Riverstone, and Williams, along with Elizabeth Jones, Math Instructor for the Educational Opportunities Program, presented a talk entitled An Active, Adaptive Approach to Teaching and Learning College Algebra. The talk focused on the recent redevelopment of College Algebra, MTH 111, and outlined the challenges and successes of incorporating active learning in the classroom and adaptive online technologies outside of the classroom.

Dan Rockwell presented a mini session at the AMATYC conference entitled Getting Out of the Classroom: Calculus Field Trips for Adults. Rockwell discussed how the activities he uses in his calculus courses that get his students out of the classroom to see math in the real world.

Clark, Jones, Riverstone, and Williams also took advantage of a concurrent conference, Accelerate, put on by the Online Learning Consortium, OLC, also taking place in Orlando at the same time. The OLC’s mission is to create community and connections around quality online and digital learning while driving innovation.

The four math instructors presented a talk with Cub Kahn, OSU Hybrid Initiative Coordinator, and Susan Fein, OSU Ecampus Instructional Designer, on A Team Approach to Redesign of a Large-Enrollment, High-Failure-Rate Course in a Blended, Active and Adaptive Format. The group discussed the process of the collaborative effort used to redesign College Algebra as a blended, active, and doubly adaptive course. Clark, Jones, Riverstone, and Jones also participated in a discovery session about Retelling the Story of College Algebra with an Active and Adaptive Approach for Student Success and Engagement. The session detailed how the order of the college algebra content was completely reimagined to introduce all function types on day one of the course, engaging students early and building big ideas from the start. Williams summed up the experience,

"Going to Florida was a great opportunity to present at two national conferences. It was gratifying to receive such positive feedback from so many colleagues across the country!” -Katy Williams