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 sixcourse 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 reallife 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 indepth interviews
with students and facultyof nineteen courses (a total of 36 course
iterations) taught by 27 different faculty (a total of 44
"facultycourses") and involving over 1800 "studentcourses." 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.
