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Math Department on the Move

Faculty Scholarship Enhances Dynamics of Mathematics Education

May 27, 2009

During the course of the past two years, the mathematics department has continued to serve as the cornerstone of the quantitative portion of the general education requirements.

Out of 711 freshmen in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years, 537 completed their quantitative requirement either by taking algebra 1 and 2 (119), algebra 2 (261), algebra 3 (88), or calculus (69). In addition, six biology majors completed their calculus 1 requirement, as well as thirteen chemistry majors who completed their calculus 1 and calculus 2 requirements in the last two academic years. The department also graduated nine math majors in the 2007-2008 school year and six math majors in the 2008-2009 school year. 

During the fall of 2008, a math club, composed of faculty members and students was established and is currently in the process of developing regular meetings and social events which are designed to include not only math majors, but to also reach out to other students on campus and faculty members. Social events included a Euchre tournament and a cookout near the volleyball courts during the week of final exams.

Faculty members in the math department have continued to serve in a number of capacities outside the classroom.

Louise Crago has continued to serve as the coordinator of the math center. During the spring semester of 2009, the center employed nine math majors as tutors, and these tutors assisted numerous students with their mathematical difficulties. The Math Center keeps a formal sign up sheet, but students do not always sign in. There were over 80 students who did choose to sign in formally, with a total of over 350 different visits by these students. Over 160 of these visits were for either algebra 1, 2, or 3 students, while the remainder of the visits were for upper level math courses.

James FitzSimmons has continued his research interests in statistics education and writing in the mathematics classroom.  He has been working with Angela Mitchell in the business department to foster collaborative real-world projects between his Statistics for Science Students course and her Business Statistics course.  They have spoken and published together on the topic in both the mathematics and business fields and have been recognized by colleagues for their innovative teaching method. In addition, he continues to explore other new ways to teach statistics and has presented several papers about those methods.

James is also very interested in the use of writing in the mathematics classroom and encourages the importance of students learning to communicate about the mathematics that they learn and use.  He has presented several papers in this area as well and is working on a book of mathematics writing assignments that can be used by others in their classrooms.

Russell Kincaid has continued to perform research in the area of depleted uranium contamination based on United States weapons systems. He has spoken on this topic at several locations including academic institutions (Wilmington College, Denison University, Western Michigan University, Hope College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College), churches (Miami Center quarterly Friends meeting, Skyridge Church of the Brethren), political meetings (Christian Peacemaker’s Team, United for Peace and Justice), and conferences (Third International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences). He has also recently published a paper on this topic recently in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (2008).

In addition, Russell has spearheaded the establishment of the student Math Club, has served on the IDRC committee for two years ((2006-2007, 2007-2008) including taking over as Clerk when Mary Rose Zink was ill), participated in the first year experience task force(2008-2009), and the Academic Computing Committee (2006-2007). He is also one of three junior faculty involved in the establishment of a series of “Early Career Faculty Forums,” organized for the purpose of establishing a help and support network for new faculty in their early years at Wilmington College.

Russell received funding from the Southern Ohio Educational Service Center in the Summer of 2008 to teach a dual-credit calculus 1 course to high school students on Wilmington College’s campus. This included 16 students from six area high schools. This partnership is expected to continue each summer as long as the funding from the Southern Ohio
Educational Service Center is available.

During the summer of 2008, Russell served as a reader for the Educational Testing Service for the high school AP calculus exams. During the 2008-2009 academic year he took over as coordinator of the District Science Day for Ohio District 17.