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Institute for Mathematics Learning

The Institute for Mathematics Learning provides coordinated, equitable mathematical experiences for students. The IML has three primary charges:

  • Coordinated, equitable experiences for students in MATH 121 – 150
  • Outreach and the preparation of future teachers
  • Research and scholarly work that form our core vision

Core Goals

  • All courses from MATH 121-150 will have specific outcomes that proceed in a logical progression. Coordinated to ensure equitable experiences for students across all sections.
  • Developing, implementing and assessing research-based classroom innovations.
  • Actively involved in providing leadership to the mathematics education community (K-16) at the regional, state and national levels.

The Teaching Philosophy

Change in these components is founded primarily on the social constructivist theory of learning, which advocates the active engagement of students in the exploration and discovery of mathematical concepts. Faculty members employ technology as a tool in the exploring of these concepts. Furthermore, mathematics is taught in context, using real world problems to motivate students to study mathematics and to improve their problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities. The IML is conducting research to assess the effectiveness of these techniques, which should lead to changes in the profession of mathematics education.

Core Vision

Coordinated, equitable experiences for students in MATH 121-150 is based on having these courses coordinated by tenure-track faculty and teaching faculty, preferably with an interest in implementing best, research based practices. There will be clearly stated course goals and outcomes and common exams (at least 80% of the exam would be common across all sections). It is expected that the coordinator of the course is an innovator and has a vision of how students will interact with the material.

There will be a conscious effort to implement more active learning in these courses. To that end, the coordinator/instructors will work with the math education faculty to learn about what types of activities promote deeper learning and how best to support instructors in implementing them. Such professional development activities will be open to instructors across all levels and will be valued by the promotion and tenure committee (we will provide certificates of completion or something to this end). This coordination allows for some flexibility on the instructor’s part. Additionally, students will be supported through the learning center and supplemental instruction

Outreach activities will support teaching innovation at the K-12 level across the state. The IML will provide the leadership and resources to prepare future teachers to be successful innovators in the classroom as well as professional development for in-service teachers to expand their practices. This will be achieved through innovative classroom practices and workshops. The IML will facilitate an environment where college professors and K-12 educators can freely exchange ideas.

Research and scholarly work will encompass seeking grants to support our classroom innovations, publishing the results of our studies and curriculum development, and presenting our findings at regional, national, and international conferences. Whenever possible, we will involve undergraduate and graduate students, especially any student who expects to be involved in math education, in our research projects teams.

Above all, we want to encourage a spirit of cooperation among instructors and students to provide the best possible mathematical experiences for all students (majors and non-majors). We seek to break the stereotypes that only geniuses do math, but rather to create the understanding that mathematics is a human endeavor that may present challenges, but is also beautiful and rewarding.

History

The Institute for Mathematics Learning was started in 2000 by Provost Gerald Lang and Dean Duane Nellis. The Institute is part of the Department of Mathematics, with its own director who reports directly to the chair of the Department of Mathematics. The IML's original purpose was to significantly enhance the mathematics learning environment for the WVU students. Over the years, the IML has had several directors, including Dr. Robert Mayes and Dr. Michael Mays, and many full-time mathematics faculty members have worked under its auspices.

The Institute for Math Learning was established by WVU to enhance the learning of mathematics for students at WVU and for students in the state’s school system in kindergarten through high school. Faculty members in the institute are addressing five underlying components of mathematics learning – research, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and outreach.