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Mathematical Association of America
Mathematics in Service to the Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in the Mathematical Sciences

Mathematics in Service to the Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in the Mathematical Sciences

by Charles R. Hadlock, Edward Zlotkowski


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Mathematics in Service to the Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in the Mathematical Sciences

This book looks at the wide variety of ways in which math, statistics, and math education teachers have incorporated service-learning into their courses. These projects are not just stand-alone community service initiatives, but rather they specifically target the improvement of mathematics skills and insights of the college students in the courses with which they are associated. In some cases, the projects are the major focus of the courses. In others, they may range from an essential component to one of several options. The book also speculates about heretofore untapped possibilities for service-learning, even including courses in pure mathematics.

College faculty often may not fully appreciate the wide range of support mechanisms for such ventures even within their own institutions, so the book includes a lengthy chapter on the details of converting a rough idea to a solid action plan, sometimes even picking up financial support and other often unexpected benefits along the way. Creative teachers rarely implement a project in exactly the same way as a colleague might have, so the emphasis here is to display a wide range of successful projects in order to encourage readers to develop some of their own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780883851760
Publisher: Mathematical Association of America
Publication date: 07/28/2005
Series: Maa Notes Ser.
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

2.1 Perspectives on Modeling Applications in a Service-Learning Framework Catherine A. Roberts, College of the Holy Cross


The purpose of this book is to explore the possibilities for service-learning within the mathematics curriculum. Service projects are an attractive way to infuse purpose and meaning into the student learning experience, and the most obvious home within the mathematics curriculum is courses that contain real-world applications. Such modeling applications can serve as the link between the classroom experience and a community-based service-learning project.
One of my favorite textbooks on mathematical modeling describes this subject as "the bridge between the study of mathematics and the applications of mathematics to various fields" [4]. A service-learning project is an ideal way to build this bridge. In this chapter, several illustrative examples of service-learning in mathematical modeling courses are presented for your consideration. Not all of these examples fit completely into the traditional concept of service-learning, yet they are featured here to help showcase the wide variety of ways in which math courses can link to the broader community, and they all suggest creative frameworks for service-learning initiatives.
It is worth emphasizing the range of possibilities for incorporating service-learning in mathematics. Projects can be integrated directly into existing courses at all levels: in section 2.6, projects for an upper-level course for majors are presented, whereas in section
2.5 and later in this section, projects for elementary level courses are described.Frameworks outside of the typical classroom can also be constructed: section 2.2 describes how teams of students work on a single project during the January term, and section 2.4 discusses a project clearinghouse that employs student workers during the summer.  Section 2.3 discusses a special, project-oriented summer course. Clearly, the range of frameworks available is only limited by our imaginations.
In this section, we'll discuss the challenges, rewards, as well as the nuts-and-bolts, of developing and delivering a service-learning course. Even if you don't teach a course in mathematical modeling per se, keep in mind that most math courses contain examples that model the real world, many of which qualify as potential springboards for service-learning projects. The example that I will draw upon here is an introductory course for non-majors, Environmental Mathematics, which I have now taught twice, most recently as a service-learning course.
The hallmarks of higher education are teaching, research, and service. In the foreword to [7], R. Couto points out that service-learning and community-based research are an effective way to combine these three components of higher education. In [1], the authors note that "educators in higher education are interested in identifying increasingly better ways to achieve educational goals, including socially responsive knowledge and civic skills." Indeed, service-learning has been a recognized component of teaching in the humanities and social sciences for over two decades [6]. But what about mathematics? Does our field have a place at the service-learning table? The contributions to this chapter, indeed to this entire book, offer evidence that the answer is decidedly "yes".
The Mathematical Association of America has recently updated its Curriculum Guide for undergraduate mathematics programs [8]. Their recommendations include that departments in the mathematical sciences should "develop mathematical thinking and communications skills", "communicate the interconnections of the mathematical sciences" and "promote interdisciplinary cooperation". It's hard to imagine a more appropriate way to involve students in their communities than through a project using the analytical modeling skills that they've developed in their math course.
In this chapter, you will find five essays that detail particular initiatives that involve mathematical modeling in service-learning. They represent a variety of approaches for involving students in these endeavors. You should note that these essays are not devoted simply to sharing the end-results from successful student projects. Rather, they describe a variety of mathematical modeling applications, most within a service framework but some with a broader range of clients or objectives. In choosing to highlight these particular projects, we decided to emphasize well- developed modeling projects that underscore the kinds of programs that had great potential within a service-learning framework. The difference, of course, is that when service-type projects are chosen within these frameworks, a whole new layer of general education about civic engagement results, particularly when service is cultivated by well designed reflection exercises. Our hope is that reading through these project descriptions will support your efforts to create your own mathematical modeling service-learning initiatives.

How to Prepare and Deliver a Service-Learning Course

Service-learning courses are tailored to a particular course in most cases and to the client agencies that work with your students. The nature of this relationship can vary enormously, as can be seen in the essays that you will find in this chapter. However, there are some common considerations for anyone who is planning to develop a service-learning component that uses mathematical modeling as the link between the classroom and the community, as we discuss below.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Edward

Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview, Charles R Hadlock

Chapter 2: Service-Learning in Mathematical Modeling Perspectives on Modeling Applications in a Service-Learning Framework, Catherine A Roberts
Real World Consulting: The Saint Olaf Mathematics Practicum, Steve McKelvey
The Baltimore City Fire Department Staffing Problem, Andrew Engel, Coy L May and Mike O‚Leary
Creating Experience in an Experiential Learning Environment, John R Ramsay
The Mathematics Umbrella: Modeling and Education, Arcadii Z Grinshpan
Designing Efficient Snow Plow Routes: A Service-Learning Project, Peh H Ng

Chapter 3: Service-Learning in Statistics
Perspectives on Statistics Projects in a Service-Learning Framework, Gina Reed
Making Meaning, Applying Statistics, Rob Root, Trisha Thorme, and Char Gray
Integration of Service-Learning Into Statistics Education, Engin A Sungur, Jon E Anderson, and Benjamin S Winchester
Community Service Projects in a First Statistics Course, Debra L Hydorn
Elementary Projects in Data Interpretation, Marilyn Massey 

Chapter 4: Education-Oriented Service-Learning Projects in Mathematics
Perspectives on Education-Oriented Mathematics Projects in a Service-Learning Framework, Victor J Donnay
Technology-College Algebra Service-learning Project: "Surviving College Algebra, Dana Craig
Kˆ12 Math Tutoring as a Service-Learning Experience for Elementary Education Students, Jerry F Dwyer
Service-Learning for Pre-Service Teachers and Developmental Math Students,  John F Hamman
America Counts: A Tutoring Program for the Twenty-First Century, Candice Ridlon
Can We Teach Social Responsibility? Finite Mathematics Students at an Urban Campus Tutor At-Risk Youth, Richard A Zang
Math Carnivals: A Celebration of Mathematics, Jane K Bonari and Deborah A Farrer
Connecting Mathematics to Real-World Classrooms through Service-Learning, Lida Garrett McDowell
Family Math Nights: Sharing Our Passion for Mathematics, Perla Myers
The Community Math Teaching Project, Jennifer Morse and Joshua Sabloff

Chapter 5: Untapped Possibilities? Charles R Hadlock 

Chapter 6: Getting Down to Work " A "How-To Guide for Designing and  Teaching a Service-Learning Course, Jennifer Webster and Charles Vinsonhaler

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