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OU Math Professors to Research Active Learning in Undergraduate Math Education

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NORMAN – A University of Oklahoma mathematics professor, Milos Savic, has received a two-year, $93,298 grant from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to help undergraduate students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees succeed in introductory math courses. Savic and team will use the grant to improve and assess a recently-developed active learning pre-calculus course taught to 1,000 OU students each year.

“This grant will continue the pioneering work of OU’s Department of Mathematics in first-year mathematics,” said Savic. “It recognizes us as national leaders in pursuit of superior mathematics teaching practices.”

The team for this project includes Savic, Deborah Moore-Russo, Keri Kornelson and Noel Brady, mathematics professors in the OU College of Arts and Sciences.

APLU teamed with three core universities with success in active learning education, San Diego State University, Colorado State University and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and now will support and study efforts at OU as well as eight other universities. The process will help identify which methods for implementing active learning for mathematics work best at different types of schools with the goal of developing models that work at any institution.

The National Science Foundation is supporting the project, known as SEMINAL: Student Engagement in Mathematics through an Institutional Network for Active Learning, with a $3 million, five-year grant. The initiative will place emphasis on helping underrepresented minority students succeed in introductory math courses that are foundational in STEM fields. The nine universities joined with the three core universities to study how to enact and support institutional change fostering the use of active learning.

Introductory math courses are foundational to success in STEM majors and fields. Active learning has proven highly effective in helping more students succeed in math courses. The largest study of undergraduate STEM education to date found that undergraduate students in classes using active learning methods had higher course grades by half a letter, and students in classes with traditional learning were 1.5 times more likely to fail.

OU and the eight other universities were selected through a rigorous peer review process—California State University, East Bay; California State, Fullerton; Kennesaw State University; Loyola University; Morgan State University; The Ohio State University; University of Maryland; and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.