Moving Beyond Pilots
Next Steps in the Evolution of Mathematics Education

AMS Committee on Education's Annual Mini-conference on Education
held October 12, 2018

About the Event

Over the last decade, mathematicians have engaged in many innovations in mathematics education, and more generally in STEM education. These can be viewed as pilots for larger-scale changes in the teaching and learning of mathematics that are now taking off nationally. It is essential that the mathematical community be aware of and engaged in the ways that external and internal forces impact our classrooms, content, and pedagogy. In particular, ways that economic, legislative, and judicial methods are being employed to define academic goals.

On October 12, 2018 the Committee on Education of the AMS held a mini-conference on education in Washington, DC. The conference provided an opportunity for these changes to be discussed among mathematicians, experts from adjacent fields, and legal experts focused on the intersection between math education and civil rights.

Agenda from October 12, 2018 Mini-conference on Education

  • Breakfast & Welcome

  • Early Morning

    Voices from Mathematics

    What is the view from within the mathematical community on how undergraduate and graduate mathematics education will need to adapt in the changing post-baccalaureate and post-graduate STEM world? What are the crucial math education debates in which the mathematical community needs to deepen its participation?

    "Departmental Practices Supporting Careers in Business, Industry and Government (BIG)"
    Presenter:  Rachel Levy, Mathematical Association of America

    What do we consider successful career paths for our graduates?  How should our curricula change to adapt to workforce needs? How can we help prepare students for jobs that might not yet exist?  We’ll discuss opportunities for departments to build faculty capacity, make connections to BIG and motivate cultural shifts.

    "TPSE: Its Creation, Evolution and Agenda"
    Presenters:  Karen Saxe, American Mathematical Society and Uri Treisman, The University of Texas at Austin

    TPSE was created in 2014 under the leadership of Phillip Griffiths through a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  Its formation was a response to widespread criticism of the mathematics discipline’s perceived failure to address the educational needs of students in an era with growing demands for mathematical skill and knowledge.  TPSE has set an ambitious agenda to partner with other mathematical organizations and ensure that the discipline adequately addresses the quantitative and analytical skills students at all levels of post-secondary education need for success in today’s world.

  • Late Morning

    Voices from STEM

    What is the view of the STEM community and the financial world on how undergraduate and graduate mathematics education will have to adapt if it is to thrive in the evolving academic and business landscape? What are the crucial interdisciplinary discussions in which the mathematical community needs to deepen its participation?

    "The Role of Mathematics in the Study of Visual Processing in the Brain"
    Presenter:  Ellen Hildreth, Wellesley College

    Understanding how the brain processes information as a basis for sensory perception, thought and action, requires an interdisciplinary approach that combines insights from computational modeling, neuroscience, cognitive science, and psychology. Research in each of these disciplines relies on a strong foundation of mathematics, used to characterize formal representations of sensory information to abstract knowledge, formulate and analyze viable solutions to problems faced by both biological systems and intelligent machines, and analyze and interpret complex data. Drawing upon examples from human visual processing, including the visual guidance of motor actions and central role that machine learning has played in vision research, this talk will highlight some of the many areas of mathematics that are critical to advanced work in this field.

    "From the heat equation to financial security"
    Presenter:  Sonin Kwon, MassMutual Financial Group

    As an employer and a colleague of mathematicians in the financial industry, I will try to address the following points:  Why mathematics education matters in the financial industry; What specific skills (math students have) are readily applicable at work; What other general skills math (or any) students need in order to thrive.
  • Lunch

    Post-Lunch – Forum discussion

    Reflecting on morning sessions with partner organizations.

  • Mid-Afternoon

    Voices on Policy and Equity

    How are mathematics placement and admissions policies adapting to a changing post-baccalaureate landscape? How do those policies impact academic equity? How do they open access to higher education and safeguard the value that higher education affords?

    "Rethink STEM"
    Presenter:  Jake Steel, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, U.S. Department of Education

    In this presentation, we will look at the Administration's Priorities -- what we have done so far and what we look to do.  Also, we will discuss what we can do to better assist Math Educators.

    "Math Achievement: Law, Policy, and Post-Secondary Opportunity"
    Presenter:  Christopher Edley, Opportunity Institute

    Math requirements (e.g., Algebra-II) are often used for college entry, transfer to 4-year institutions, or completion of Gen Ed requirements.  Their consequences include: opening pathways to STEM coursework and careers; raising barriers to college matriculation, persistence, and graduation; utilitarian literacy; aesthetic appreciation; and rationing college or curricular access.  This session will explore perspectives from law, education policy, and equity. 
  • Forum discussion

    Policy and Equity with partner organizations

  • Late Afternoon

    Speaking to the world and wrapping up

    How do we talk to the world about mathematics? How can we teach it to a broader community in ways that leave them hungering for more? What have we learned about how to prepare students well for the mathematical skills they will need in the future?

    "What math do we want non-STEM college majors to know?"
    Presenter:  Manil Suri, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

    Most universities require all graduates to have taken, at a minimum, a "General Education" math course. This can be a challenge for students and instructors alike. In this talk, we critique some common motivations behind, and materials used in, such courses. We describe an alternative narrative-based approach currently being tested. This STEAM-related approach, if successful, could have broader applications in informal math outreach as well.

Summary Report

Please join us for the next AMS Mini-conference on Education

Friday, October 25, 2019
8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Washington, DC


Registration Opens June 2019


AMS Committee on Education

The Committee on Education serves as the Society's channel for communication and cooperation with other organizations on matters concerning education, provides a forum for the discussion of mathematics education issues, provides information and makes recommendations to the leadership and membership of the Society on education issues, and organizes elements of AMS meetings addressing mathematics education.