Helping Students Understand Real-world Applications of Mathematics by Connecting Industry to Math Instruction
This project aims to improve mathematics education at the community college and high school levels to ensure that students gain the mathematics skills they need to enter STEM careers. To achieve this goal, the project will directly connect math instruction with industry needs. By providing this connection, high school and community college math educators can help their students see the significance of math beyond the classroom. With substantial input from industry experts, math educators will create industry-validated and classroom-tested student activities designed to help students use math concepts within different industry and technological contexts. The activities will include student tasks and teacher notes about how to implement the activity in the classroom. In addition, the activities will have introductory videos featuring diverse subject matter experts, thus helping students from different backgrounds envision themselves as successful STEM professionals. The project will also introduce math students to STEM careers and educational pathways that they might not have otherwise considered.
This project is a collaboration between Wake Technical Community College, Wake County Public School System, and WakeEd Partnership. The project responds to the call to teach math in the context of real-world applications, which was issued by the NSF-funded Needed Math Conference and the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. It also builds on prior proof-of-concept workshops by the collaborators. The goals of the project include: 1) effecting sustainable change in instructional practice of math educators; 2) developing an online catalog of self-contained, industry-validated math activities; 3) incorporating STEM-based activities into math courses; and 4) increasing diversity in STEM. The project will incorporate industry input and subject matter expertise during the development of activities, which will be piloted in high schools across Wake County. The project will also assess student success and feedback, and gather industry input about that feedback. Formative and summative evaluation will be used to improve understanding of how high schools, community colleges, and industry can collaborate to build effective solutions to pressing educational challenges. Evidence gathered through evaluation will advance knowledge about effective teaching/learning methods. Dissemination will include conference presentations, and validated activities will be available for download from multiple web-based repositories.