Goals of MATC

The goals we have set for this project are broad and far reaching. Here are our priorities:

1. Make mathematics welcome and even indispensable across the entire curriculum

In the same way that all students should be able to write an essay in any subject they have studied, all students should be able to look at a problem or situation or experiment and ask suitable mathematical questions. They should then have some idea of how to seek the answers to their questions. This is inevitably tied to the reduction of a lot of anxiety about the use of mathematics among the students and, we cautiously point out, the faculty.

2. Motivate students to take mathematics seriously

We believe we need to change the way mathematics seems to put off budding scientists and social scientists so that they attempt to minimize their use of it throughout their undergraduate career and (one suspects) later in life. An interdisciplinary approach to mathematics, allowing students to focus on their discipline, should prove a motivator to do otherwise.

3. Broaden the diversity of those undergraduates enrolling in math or science courses

In addition to ethnic diversity this project is designed to reach out to students in the humanities and fine arts with courses and materials highlighting the mathematics that intersects their current interests. The presence of these people in mathematics courses will make those courses richer for those inclined more toward the mathematics and science and will make the mathematics important and beautiful to those not initially drawn to it.

4. Increase the ability of students to approach data in a mathematical manner

This applies primarily to students in the natural sciences, social sciences and psychology. Faculty in these fields find that students have a weak grasp of what it means to fit a curve to data, how to measure variances, how to interpret the results of various statistical tests, how to interpret a graph, etc.

5. Increase the ability and willingness of students to use mathematics they already know to facilitate their understanding of other subjects and to draw upon other subjects to improve their mathematics

We have in mind here the issue of modelling real world phenomena using calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, Fourier series, probability, dynamical systems and other topics normally addressed through the mathematics curriculum.

6. Stem the flow away from science and math of students with talent and ability

7. Make the methods and materials designed to further these goals available, accessible and outright friendly to the broad national audience of faculty in undergraduate institutions

Impact Information

In its first four years the Dartmouth Mathematics Across the Curriculum project created sixteen new courses: a six-course mathematics and physical sciences sequence (IMPS), two intermediate mathematics applications for science courses, and eight courses linking mathematics with a humanistic discipline. Additionally, it has influenced another thirteen, supporting the creation of new mathematics modules, case studies, or other interventions that add a mathematical lens. The evaluation team was charged with evaluating the effects of these courses on student learning, faculty development and institutional culture. Apportioning our resources for maximum impact, we focused on four categories of courses where the MATC influence was greatest: the IMPS sequence, the Introduction to Calculus featuring real-life applications, intermediate math applications for science, and the math and humanities courses. The evaluation results are based on extensive assessmentusing attitude and achievement surveys, content tests, and in-depth interviews with students and facultyof nineteen courses (a total of 36 course iterations) taught by 27 different faculty (a total of 44 "faculty-courses") and involving over 1800 "student-courses." Looking at a broad range of courses over time allowed us to identify patterns in student learning and faculty experience that transcend a single course or discipline as well as to assess the effectiveness of MATC courses.