Project Idea Based on March 10 Meeting

Michael & Jonathan,

The idea for our project we talked about is a three credit first year math experience course that could potentially be a course that all students have to take like students have to take a three credit English/writing course in their first year. We want the course to start with the concrete and move to the abstract and teach important math concepts that are powerful and personally relevant to the students. We also want the course to be an exploration of the different careers that relate to the math concepts and help student figure out the right program for them based on the math they enjoy most in the course. We want the main learning objectives to be communication, critical thinking (problem solving), and teamwork and hope to do more projects and very few, possibly no, tests. This is only part of the ideas and I am probably leaving out some important items. But when we meet again you can get a better feel for our idea and let us know what you think.

Jessica is going to set up our zoom meetings for every Tuesday from 2:30 to 3:30 PM and a google docs where we share what we think are the most important topics to cover in the course, what the main learning objectives should be, and how we will measure whether we meet the learning objective. We are also going to share in google docs any math courses we know that are similar to this idea. Jessica knows about some courses at ISU that are similar and I am going to share the syllabus and schedule for the Math 123 course I teach here at CWI.

Jessica & Ann - If I left anything out or said something that needs to be corrected please chime in!


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Hi Paul

Nothing is missing. And the link of google doc is
Everyone with this link can edit it.

You’ve covered everything. Thanks, Paul.

One thing I might add is that we talked about goals for our project to include inspiring excitement about mathematics and retention into downstream courses. I’m adding this after today’s session with Apurva as something we can keep prominent in our minds as we approach marketing from the Rebus standpoint.


It seems like you all have found a productive direction. Sorry, couldn’t make your meeting!

Just to make sure I understand the project: are you creating a course or aligning a course with OER? If the former, does this course already exist as something you teach? If the latter, which course(s) are you aligning with OER?

Keep up the great work!


I would say at this stage we are thinking about creating a course (the team can correct me if I am wrong). We don’t feel there is something that already exists
but there are several courses that have some of the pieces we need. For example, Math 123 has some of the pieces, Math 130 Finite Math has some of the pieces, and Jessica knows a few courses at ISU that has some of the pieces – a mathematical thinking course
and an honors course related to career development. We are also looking for other course that might have some pieces we need.

We have created a google docs where we are each going to list the topics we want for the course, the main objectives we want for the course, and how we think
we would assess the main objectives. We will then look at the lists and find commonalities that will lead to our final list of topics, objectives, and assessments.

I just talked to Gary Thomas, a math instructor at CWI, that is interested in our project. He almost applied for the fellowship but could not see how he could
pilot a course. I told him about the Rebus Training we do on Wednesday morning at 7:00 AM and he said he would like to attend the trainings. Would that be possible for him to do?

His name is Gary Thomas and his e-mail address is:



I was sorry that you couldn’t be there as well, but in some ways it may have been a benefit toward our teamwork to have an unstructured time, and as much as we wanted, to let the ideas percolate (my positive spin, anyway).

To your question, though, we did not settle on one or the other. We talked about “applied Math 143” and something like “Math 123+”, then talked about what we want the students to “get” from the class and ideas on what we might use for
the “applications” that would lead into the mathematics. I would say that right now, it would be a new course of the thinking level of Math 143, working to developing algebraic thinking from application to the abstract (developing algebraic thinking without
algebra in all of its forms).

Is that helpful at all?


@paulbelue this is how you DM someone in the discussion thread.

Dear Jonathan
Suppose the Math group is designing a course that does not exits. Do we need to aim at making the material (OER textbook) to be adapted as a General Education course?

Based on the fellowship expectations, there should be some clear relevance between the OER you evaluate/develop and the GEM courses that exist for your discipline. If the new course is really a new curriculum for a GEM class that already exists (say, for instance, Math 123), the argument is an easy one to make. If the course is wholly new and would need to be approved on an institution by institution basis, it will be more difficult (though not impossible) to justify the relevance of the materials to current GEM courses.

As you all are describing the project, however, it sounds like it could have broad relevance across many GEM ways of knowing.

Thanks Jonathan for reminding us about the clear relevance our project needs to have to the GEM courses that exist for our discipline. At this point in our progress I believe in one sense our project is a new curriculum for Math 143 College Algebra because it will include the same concepts and topics of the existing GEM Math 143 but with a different pedagogical approach. But in another sense it may be wholly new because we want it to be a College Algebra course for non-stem majors where right now the GEM Math 143 College Algebra is mainly for stem majors and designed to be a pre-requisite for going on to take Calculus. However, it may be possible to achieve all three objectives: a different pedagogical approach, for non-stem majors, and for stem majors adequate enough to have them prepared to go on and take Calculus? If we can achieve all three we would be looking at a new curriculum design for the GEM Math 143 College Algebra rather than a wholly new course. We will talk about this issue at our next meeting on Tuesday, March24, at 2:30 PM. This is an important part of determining the scope of our project. Thanks again, for the feedback.

Team, please correct me. Reflecting on our conversation yesterday and through today’s meeting, it seems to me that “Ways of Knowing” is almost limiting as a description of what we are proposing. “Ways of Thinking” feels more accurate. An emerging theme from our meeting yesterday is that in thinking about mathematics from the applied to the abstract, we are envisioning a resource that will begin with things that our users already do in everyday life to develop the applications, and our resource will guide their thinking through the construct and synthesis of seeing mathematics as a tool to “model” everyday life.

From the topic list that we put together yesterday as a starting place, I think that what we want to develop could be used as support for Math 123, 143, or Math/Stat 153, or it could be used for an entirely course (again, please correct me if I’m not thinking about this in the right way). I also see it as a broader general education resource in that we implicitly want to use it to help students develop more critical thinking skills and begin to synthesize what they have learned in other courses together with what they will learn in a course that uses our product.

This may be a drastic overstatement but it seems to me that we are proposing a resource that moves from a traditional skill and drill approach to College Algebra (for example) to a recognize > think > understand > explain > model (maybe not in that order) approach, using mathematics as the modeling “tool” wherein they can develop abilities to take complex problems (of any kind, not just mathematics), break them down into first principles, and use those principles to develop potential solutions.

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, Paul. I will follow up with Gary.

I think your group may be limiting the appeal of your project under the term “course.” I’ve mentioned before that what you describe is a OER-based pedagogical approach that may be adopted by multiple courses (existing or non). The scope that you all are pursing definitely aligns with expectations from the state in funding your work, I’m just trying to help you all with your marketability. :wink:

Let me know if you have any questions.

I agree with your feedback and will share it with the rest of the group and ask what they think.


Can’t they see it on this thread? :wink:

True - this is a thread not a personal e-mail. I get the two mixed up.

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No worries. It’s a feature of keeping communications in the Community Platform!

The math group like the changes you made to the description of our project in Rebus.


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Thanks! I meant to say something.