of Mathematical Sciences seeks to provide students with the training
in mathematics and statistics necessary for success in their careers.
The instructional mission of the department can be divided into
three categories: 1) we offer quantitative literacy to general university
students; 2) we provide the mathematical background for students
preparing for careers in other fields; and 3) we offer a quality
program of mathematical specialization in the form of majors (with
various options) and a minor. Graduates of major/minor programs
may teach in public schools or work in national laboratories, government
or businesses. Our graduates often seek advanced degrees in mathematics.
The University Catalog defines the mathematical literacy that is
expected of all students at The University of Montana. A graduate
will demonstrate the ability to a) formulate real-world problems
quantitatively, b) solve quantitative problems, c) interpret solutions
to problems, and d) make critical judgments regarding the validity
of competing formulations and solutions. This definition is considered
in the established learning goals of all undergraduate courses.
There is the commitment to maintain a faculty make-up with adequate
expertise to carry out its service obligations to the University
of Montana through course offerings. Naturally, the research commitment
of the department is more extensive at the graduate level, but undergraduate
students often participate through research courses, seminars, independent
study, undergraduate projects, and theses.
|Steps in the Assessment Process
are the most important learning goals for students who complete
a major or minor in mathematical sciences:
- Students are expected to obtain a broad background in mathematics
as demonstrated by their understanding of core mathematical
content: functions, calculus, linear algebra, proof.
- Students will develop the ability to communicate mathematics
both within and outside the discipline.
- Students will develop clear, analytical thinking skills as
demonstrated by rigorous reasoning in mathematical arguments.
- Students will employ a variety of problem solving strategies,
including the use of technology.
- Students will be prepared for advanced, more specialized study
in mathematics (pure and applied), statistics, or mathematics
means are used to measure the progress of our students and to evaluate
the programs that we offer:
3. Modifications Based on Assessment
- For each undergraduate class, we have identified specific
learning goals. Expected entering skills and prerequisites are
considered. Suggestions are given for in-class measurement of
the learning goals. Potential problems (for example, future
needs of students and difficulties encountered when multiple
sections converge into one subsequent course) are part of the
- Because the content of previous mathematics courses is extremely
relevant to future study in the field, we constantly monitor
the success of students in subsequent courses. The success of
students in the next course is a good measure of their command
of the previous courses.
- We follow up on our graduates. We try to stay in touch to
see if they think we have prepared them well. We often receive
feedback from our graduates who continue in academic programs
regarding the value of their undergraduate preparation here.
- Many of our students participate in independent projects leading
to publications and public presentations. Mathematics students
may also participate in local, regional, and national competitions.
The following is a sample of changes made after assessing program
offerings in the department:
- Following a retreat of the entire faculty to study our calculus
offerings, a committee undertook a year-long restructuring of
the course. All aspects were considered, including prerequisites,
the use of technology in instruction, the future goals of students
in the courses, consistency in multiple sections, and grading.
- In conjunction with the Provost's Quality Initiative, a Tutorial
Center was established to benefit students in entry-level courses.
The Center employs advanced mathematics students to work with
students in 100-level courses.
- All mathematics courses are evaluated for their technology
needs. Computer labs and mathematical software are constantly
monitored and upgraded to ensure that we provide the best technology
support possible. Laboratory courses have been added to supplement
some course offerings (Math 317, Math 388, and Math 418) and
technology components have been expanded internally in some
classes (Math 150, Math 221, and Math 431). Advanced statistics
labs (Math 447 and Math 448) are now taught by professors, not
- Program adjustments have been proposed, debated, and implemented.
For example, in our Combinatorics and Optimization emphasis,
Math 481 and Math 482 were eliminated and Math 485 Graph Theory
- Regarding mathematics literacy, the department experimented
with large lecture classes in four courses (Math 107, Math 117,
Math 121, and Math 150). The results indicated that students
were adversely affected by this format, so we returned to self-contained
sections in Math 107 and Math 121.
- The hiring of Lecturers whose primary responsibility is teaching
of entry-level courses has led to a more stable cohort of faculty.
In addition, the department has committed to having more tenure-track
faculty teaching and coordinating lower-level classes.
| Mathematical Sciences | University of Montana