Mathematical Themes in a First-Year Seminar


Editors and Contributors: Jennifer Schaefer, Jennifer Bowen, Mark Kozek, and Pamela Pierce

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The purpose of this volume is to share with undergraduate mathematics faculty ideas for teaching a mathematically-oriented first-year seminar (FYS). Our vision is that this volume, containing 36 unique FYSs taught by authors from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities, will serve as a handbook for faculty members interested in finding new topics, course structures, activities, or assignments to incorporate into any writing-intensive first-year experience course containing mathematical content or mathematical or quantitative themes.

The book begins with a chapter written by the editors highlighting important things to keep in mind when teaching an FYS. The remainder of the volume is arranged by mathematical theme: Cryptography; Gambling, Game Shows, and Game Theory; Mathematical Modeling and Data; Mathematics in Politics, Equity, and Social Justice; Mathematics in Popular Culture and History; Mathematics, Art, and the Natural World; Proofs and Problem Solving; and Quantitative Literacy. In each chapter, you will find a collection of articles describing the experiences of faculty who have successfully taught mathematically-oriented FYSs related to the chapter's featured theme.

Some articles focus on a mathematical theme that will hold student and faculty interest for an entire semester. Other pieces describe a specific collection of resources and activities that made for a cohesive unit on a mathematical theme. Most articles focus on a few in-class activities or writing assignments that worked well in their FYS while incorporating learning objectives, the specifics of carrying out the activities or assignments, and/or the assessment tools utilized.

In many cases, authors have included entire assignments or assessment tools, either in the body or the appendix of their article. In fact, you will find the following course features described in the articles that follow: Assessment Tools; Class Activities; Course Schedule; Field Trips and Guest Lectures; Linked Course; Projects; Readings and Films; Student Helpers; and Writing Assignments. Because each author has included as many details as possible, our hope is that a reader thinks of each piece as a ``how-to" article, and feels confident adapting the ideas for their own FYS.


For more information on the published version, visit MAA's (Mathematical Association of America) Website.

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