CBMS Forum on The First Two Years of College Math: Building Student Success
October 5-7, 2014, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Reston VA

NEW: Slides of the Forum Presentations 

Links to the slides used by the presenters are attached to the presenters' names in the schedule and in the breakout descriptions below. 
Following the breakout descriptions are two postings requested by the MAA which describe MAA projects closely related to the goals of the forum..


The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) will host its fifth National Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Reston VA on October 5-7. The focus and theme will be on building student success in the first two years of college math. This will continue and expand the work begun at our previous national forums. These previous four forums have focused upon K-12 mathematics education and the lifelong education of K-12 teachers. Detailed information about these past forums is on the CBMS website www.cbmsweb.org.

For this forum, we turn our attention to the first two years of college mathematics and how mathematics departments can better satisfy the needs of all the students we serve in their beginning undergraduate years. 

We are holding this forum now because

bulletthe way mathematics is being used in many fields is evolving;
bulletthe need for mathematical competence in many areas of work is increasing;  
bulletthe first two years of college math are key to student success in many areas;  
bulleta primary mission of college mathematics departments is to give our students the mathematical competence they will need to succeed in their careers and in life;  
bulletmathematics departments should be leading the effort to determine and satisfy student needs in mathematics and to increase student success in collegiate mathematics.

The recent NRC publication The Mathematical Sciences in 2025 describes the broadening of the mathematical sciences and makes a strong case for mathematics departments to broaden their thinking about the pathways they provide to beginning college students.  We quote two of their key recommendations which this forum helps to address: 

Recommendation: Mathematics and statistics departments, in concert with their university administrations, should engage in a deep rethinking of the different types of students they are attracting and wish to attract, and should identify the top priorities for educating these students.  This should be done for bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D.-level curricula.  In some cases, this rethinking should be carried out in consultation with faculty from other disciplines. 

Recommendation: In order to motivate students and show the full value of the material, it is essential that educators explain to their K-12 and undergraduate students how the mathematical science topics they are teaching are used and the careers that make use of them. Modest steps in this direction could lead to greater success in attracting and retaining students in mathematical sciences courses. Graduate students should be taught about the uses of the mathematical sciences so that they can pass this information along to students when they become faculty members. Mathematical science professional societies and funding agencies should play a role in developing programs to give faculty members the tools to teach in this way.

The forum will consider the challenges posed by the evolving changes in the mathematics that our students need and will feature some of the programs that are working creatively and successfully to meet these challenges.  The series of plenary sessions will be primarily informative and will focus upon clarifying the issues.   The smaller breakout sessions will feature specific responses to some of these issues by outstanding programs.  The breakout sessions' format will be more interactive  with presentation, discussion, and Q&A. A listing of the breakout sessions with brief descriptions of each is given below.  During the online registration process, participants will be asked to list their preferences for breakout sessions.  This will allow the sessions to be scheduled into the three time slots in a way which satisfies most preferences.


Day Time Function
Oct 5
4:00-6:00 Registration


Opening Address
  A Look Forward to Math in 2025
   - Don Saari and Mark Green
7:00-8:00 Reception: Drinks and Hors d'oeuvres


Day Time Function
Oct 6
8:30-10:00 Plenary Session
Overview of Meeting and Charge to Participants
Evolving Mathematical Needs in Pathways for Students
   to STEM Careers - Eric Friedlander
   to Careers in the Social and Behavioral Sciences - Don Saari (no slides used)
   to Careers in Teaching - Hy Bass
   in Two-Year Colleges - Susan Wood
10:00-10:30     Break
10:30-12:00 Concurrent Breakout Sessions A
12:00-12:50 Lunch and Luncheon Address
Perspectives from NSF on Undergraduate Mathematics Education

    - Joan Ferrini-Mundy and Michael Vogelius (no slides used)
12:50-1:00     Break
1:00-2:00 Plenary Session
How is the community responding?  What curricular changes and improvements are needed?
  Modeling Across the Curriculum: STEM -
Peter Turner
  Modeling Across the Curriculum: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Deborah Hughes Hallett
  New Approaches for Two-Year College and General Education Students
Uri Treisman
2:00-3:30 Concurrent Breakout Sessions B
3:30-4:00     Break
4:00-5:00 Plenary Session
Perspectives from Users
   What Employers Want -
Speakers from the World of Work
 What I Wish I had Learned - (Recent Grad) Sabrina Schmidt


Day Time Function
Oct 7
8:30-9:30 Plenary Session:
Focus on Students
   Implications of the Common Core State Standards -
Bill McCallum
   Helping Students Mature: Post-secondary Education in Quebec at the CEGEP
       Educational Level
- Bernard Hodgson
   Calculus from the Students' Viewpoint - David Bressoud
9:30-10:00     Break
10:00-11:30 Concurrent Breakout Sessions C
11:30-12:00 Closing Session
Reflections. Where do we go from here?
Peter March

Breakout Sessions

The schedule of all the breakout sessions is available here.

bullet1. Evolution of the Uses of Mathematics and Some Current Approaches: Physical Sciences

Pressures of differing types have created urgency for change in the teaching of the mathematical sciences for STEM majors during the critical transitional first two years. These have arisen from the needs of the workforce (exemplified by the INGenIOuS project), from external pressures such as PCAST’s Engage to Excel report, and from more internal pressures derived from content and the desire for relevance. These internal pressures result from recognition of the increased need for statistical and computational expertise and thinking, and for "real-life" modeling and problem solving skills. The presenters have significant combined experience in all these areas. They will discuss what has already been happening and how transitional education is evolving in response to these pressures, while still paying the necessary attention to fundamental mathematical concepts.

Peter Turner, Clarkson University
John Bailer, Miami University
Paul Zorn, St. Olaf College

bullet 2. Evolution of the Uses of Mathematics and Some Current Approaches: Social, Behavioral and Life Sciences

A recent phenomenon has an increasing number of our graduating math majors obtaining solid (and well paid) careers in mathematical finance.  This is but a tip of an unrecognized reality whereby several of the social, behavioral, and life sciences are mathematically maturing to the level where, if our undergraduates are appropriately trained, these areas can provide new career directions. The natural question discussed here is to identify what kinds of courses and training are needed during the first two years to help a math program take advantage of these opportunities and move to the forefront of this developing trend. 

Don Saari, UC Irvine

bullet3. The Harvey Mudd Program

At Harvey Mudd College, the first year and a half of mathematics (six half semester courses) is common to every student. After that, mathematics majors can choose an individualized path through the curriculum, which leads to a year-long senior capstone experience. Students choose their capstone between an individual thesis project and a team industrial mathematics project we call clinic. In this breakout session I will discuss how our early curriculum supports our majors and the capstone experience. I'll also raise some pedagogical questions our department is exploring as our student population grows and changes.

Rachel Levy, Harvey Mudd College

bullet4. The Quebec Mathematics Program at the CEGEP Level

The Quebec educational system is structured in a somewhat distinctive way, especially with regard to upper- and post-secondary education. A better understanding of the peculiarities of this system, launched nearly fifty years ago, may help support reflection on the teaching and learning of mathematics at the college level. Some historical background will be presented about the CEGEP system, and basic information provided on the education offered at that level, especially in mathematics. But this breakout session will be largely devoted to an open discussion on aspects of the first two years of college math, as may be inspired by considering the path followed by students throughout the CEGEP system, mathematically and otherwise. [CEGEP is a French acronym for "Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel" whose official English meaning is "General and Vocational College."]

Bernard R. Hodgson, Université Laval (Canada) (slides are the same as Tuesday morning panel slides)

bullet5. Increasing Student Success: New Math Pathways To and Through Gateway Mathematics Courses

Nearly all community colleges and community college systems are engaged in high profile efforts to raise their graduation and transfer rates.  Central to many of these efforts is the adoption of modernized course curricula based on professional standards, implemented with more effective strategies, and designed to decrease time to successful completion of gateway mathematics courses. We will describe one high profile strand of this reform work which has its origins in the earlier curricular work of AMS, MAA, and AMATYC.  We will discuss the efforts of AMATYC, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Charles A Dana Center at UT Austin and how they are working in concert to create sustainable progress in the field.  We will also share data on, and a rigorous analysis of, three years of implementation of one of the pathways, preliminary data on the first year of a second, all of which indicate substantial promise in enabling mathematics to be a positive contributor to myriad students seeking better lives through education.

Jack Rotman, Lansing Community College
Bernadine Fong, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
Uri Treisman, Dana Center, UT Austin
There is one set of slides for this breakout: Pathways

bullet6. A Mentoring Program for Students Transiting from Two-year to Four-year Mathematics Programs

Community colleges account for a substantial fraction of undergraduate enrollments as a whole and college mathematics in particular. This session will describe a collaboration between the two-year community college district in Maricopa County (Phoenix area) and Arizona State University to provide pre-REU and other enrichment experiences for mathematically talented students.

Eric Kostelich, Arizona State University
Roberto Ribas, Scottsdale Community College

bullet7. Building for Success in Calculus

MAA’s national study of Calculus I, Characteristics of Successful Programs in College Calculus, has helped us to understand who takes calculus, why they take it, what happens in these classes, and what good programs are doing to improve the teaching and learning of calculus. This will be an opportunity to hear what we’ve learned, to discuss the lessons that we can take from this, and to shape next steps in exploring how to make calculus successful.

David Bressoud, Macalester College
Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University
There are two versions of the slides:
Bressoud-Rasmussen-v1 and Bressoud-Rasmussen-v2.

bullet8. Increasing Student Engagement in Introductory Mathematics Courses: The APLU Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership

Introductory mathematics courses at the university level are all too often uninspiring, leading to large numbers of STEM-intending students who do not develop an appreciation of mathematics needed for future success or who exit the STEM pipeline altogether. This problem is of particular importance for the MTE-Partnership, a consortium of 38 universities organized by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, which is focused on improving secondary mathematics teacher preparation. A "research action cluster" including five campuses is developing models for incorporating active learning strategies into introductory mathematics classes, including pre-calculus, calculus I, and calculus II.

W. James Lewis, University of Nebraska--Lincoln
Robert Tubbs, University of Colorado Boulder
W. Gary Martin, Auburn University
Howard Gobstein, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
There is one file that combines all the presenters' slides: APLU MTE Partnership

bullet9. Recommendations and Resources for Faculty Teaching Statistics in Mathematics Departments (Cancelled)

Statistics courses at colleges are increasingly in demand—in STEM disciplines for data scientists of the future, in teacher preparation for the Common Core State Standards, and in the liberal arts for a statistically literate populace. In this session, we will discuss the recommendations recently published by the ASA/MAA Joint Committee on Undergraduate Statistics regarding qualifications for teaching introductory statistics and provide resources available for teaching a modern statistics course.

Michael Posner, Villanova University (cancelled, no slides)

bullet10. Teaching Introductory Statistics with GAISE (Cancelled)

The American Statistical Association has adopted a series of guidelines (GAISE) for teaching introductory statistics to develop statistical thinking, use real data, emphasize concepts, foster active learning, and use technology and assessments to enhance student learning. We present examples of learning activities that implement these guidelines and can be used directly with introductory students, both those majoring in mathematical sciences and other students. These learning activities use freely available software tools and focus students' attention on understanding the overarching process of conducting statistical investigations and on the logic and scope of statistical inference.

Allan Rossman, Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo (cancelled, no slides)

bullet11. Appropriate Placement of Students into a First Math Course

Placing students into an appropriate first math course is conducive to their success in the first two years of college, while placement into the wrong course can have devastating effects. Accurate placement requires an accurate and recent assessment, but many students are placed based on standard test scores that are years out of date. This session will highlight two approaches to placement that are proving to be very helpful. Alison Reddy will discuss what makes a good placement program and give data the from the University of Illinois Placement Program which has assessed over 70,000 students over the past 8 years. Bernie Madison will discuss the placement exams that the MAA has been developing over the past 4 years. These tests, Algebra and Pre-calculus Concept Readiness (APCR) and Calculus Concept Readiness (CCR), are based on what research has shown to be critical understandings and skills necessary for success in pre-calculus, calculus and beyond. The results of using these conceptually based tests and some older tests that consist primarily of procedural items raise questions that should be considered when testing for placement. Copies of alternate forms of APCR and CCR will be available for participants.

Alison Ahlgren Reddy, University of Illinois
Bernie Madison, University of Arkansas 

bullet12. The Math Gym at UMBC (Cancelled)

The Math Gym is a concept rather than an actual place. It applies the wisdom that practice is the key to learning math well. It precipitates the best practices of many excellent instructors of foundational courses from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The Math Gym provides a framework of connecting the practice to class work in a tangible way. The Math Gym features “conditioning coaches” and “personal trainers” who will help students keep their foundational math skills in good working order. Moreover, the gym promotes healthy math habits among all our students, drawing a clear analogy between the regular work outs and conditioning needed to maintain both athletic and mathematical skill.

Nagaraj Neerchal, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (cancelled, no slides)

bullet13. The Statistical Education of Teachers (SET): an American Statistical Association Policy Document

The American Statistical Association (ASA) has as one of its strategic priorities K-12 teacher preparation in Statistics. The release and widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards have dramatically increased the expectations for teaching statistics especially in grades 6 through 12. CBMS identified the statistical preparation of teachers as an area of concern in their Mathematical Education of Teachers II (MET2) document. The SET document, a companion to the MET2 document, is ASA’s response to expanding the MET2 recommendations for answering the question: what preparation and support do K-12 teachers need to successfully support students’ learning of Statistics? This session will outline the goals of SET and provide draft recommendations and examples of the statistical content teachers across all grades need to know. The document is scheduled for publication in early 2015.

Christine Franklin, University of Georgia

bullet14. Math Departments and the Mathematical Education of Teachers: Beyond Specialized Courses

The CBMS document The Mathematical Education of Teachers II (MET2) makes recommendations for the mathematics that teachers should know and how they should come to know that mathematics. While these recommendations include guidance for specialized mathematics courses for teachers, the vision of the document cannot be achieved without thinking about the mathematical experience that pre-service teachers have in all of their mathematics classes. In this session, we will review the recommendations of the MET II document, focusing on the implication for mathematics courses in the first two years. We will also discuss how attending to the needs of future teachers can benefit current as well as future undergraduates pursuing many different mathematical trajectories.

Kristin Umland, University of New Mexico

bullet15. TPSE Math Project

Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics www.tpsemath.org, with initial funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, aims to effect constructive change in mathematics education at community colleges, 4-year colleges and research universities. This session will discuss the report of a meeting the group held this June at UT Austin.  The meeting discussed five sets of issues: 
Curriculum reform: How can we reshape the undergraduate curriculum to both raise the level of numeracy among citizens and better align current teaching with the expanded role of mathematics?
Technology, teaching, and economic impacts: What will be the impacts of new technologies, faculty changes, and cost pressures on the economic model of departments?
Opening pathways to entry and advancement: How can we empower non-majors and developmental students to reach the level of numeracy needed for careers that demand analytical thinking and 21st century quantitative skills?
Enriching the Undergraduate Experience: Are faculty willing and able to adopt new practices, including co-design and co-teaching, that promote the relevance and uses of mathematics?
Broadening graduate training: How can graduate students maintain research depth while (1) gaining awareness of how mathematics is used in other STEM/non-STEM areas and (2) bringing that awareness to their teaching?

Mark Green, UCLA
Peter March, Rutgers University
There is one set of slides for this breakout: TPSE Math

bullet16. Private Funders Session

Several private funding organizations will be invited to discuss the kind of projects they support relevant to undergraduate mathematics education.
Kathy Stumpf, Brookhill Mathematics Institute
Helmsley Foundation

bullet17. NSF Session

NSF staff from EHR will discuss programs relevant to undergraduate mathematics education.
Lee Zia, John Haddock, and Teri Murphy

bullet18. What Mathematics do First Year Community College Students Need

The National Center on Education and the Economy has released What Does It Really Mean to Be College and Work Ready?, a study of the English Literacy and Mathematics required for success in the first year of community college. The math report is available at http://www.ncee.org/college-and-work-ready/. This session will discuss the findings of the study and the implications for community college math reform and vocational education.

Rob Kimball, AMATYC

Postings requested by the MAA

These give descriptions of two projects of the MAA that are closely related to the goals of the forum.
CUPM 2015
Common Vision 2025


Intended Participants

The forum is intended for mathematics department chairs, directors of undergraduate studies in mathematics departments, and any persons with interest in and responsibility for improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in the first two years of college. The forum will provide information and models for the participants who want to learn more about the needs of today’s students and to take a fresh look at their own curricula. We encourage two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and universities to send teams of two or three participants. We want people who have the authority to influence policy and people who have the capacity to act. Teams ideally should include the department chair and the director of undergraduate studies or whoever has primary responsibility for coordination of the major and the service courses taught in the first two years. With a view toward building future leadership, we will also encourage teams to include an early career faculty member who has leadership potential. Secondary school leaders such as administrators and department heads involved in advanced mathematics courses and the transition to post-secondary education would also benefit from and bring a helpful perspective to the forum. We also expect a certain number of “observer” participants and we especially welcome observers affiliated with organizations that have the capacity to act as agents for large-scale change.

Participant Support

We have some participant support funds available and there is a place on the reservation form for you to request such support if needed.  We know that some institutions have very restricted travel budgets and we would like to be able to direct our limited funds to those who most need them.  So if you have another source of funding, please try that first before requesting support from our funds.


Registration must be done online by going to this registration form.   Each person, whether registering as as a member of a team or as an individual must submit a registration.  On the registration form, you will be asked whether you are registering as part of a team or as an individual.  If you are part of a team, you will be asked to give the team name. There is a registration fee of $100 for a team of up to 4 persons or $50 for an individual. Please request your team leader to send in the $100 team registration fee for your team if you are a member of a team or be sure to send in your $50 registration fee yourself if you are attending as an individual. This should by sent by September 25 to

1529 Eighteenth St NW
Washington DC 20036

Unfortunately, we are not equipped to handle credit card payment. 

Hotel Reservations

Please make your own hotel reservations directly with the hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Reston VA.  You can make hotel reservations online by going here or by calling 1-888-421-1442 and saying you are with the CBMS Forum group.   Our group rate is $189 per night plus tax which is currently 9%.   You must make your reservations by September 19 to be guaranteed this rate.  The hotel is located about 6 miles from Dulles Airport (IAD) and there is a complimentary hotel shuttle between the airport and the hotel.  Details about transportation to the hotel are here.

Suggested Background Reading

National Research Council. The Mathematical Sciences in 2025. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.
    Available online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=15269
National Research Council. Fueling Innovation and Discovery: The Mathematical Sciences in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: The     National Academies Press, 2012.
    Available online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13373

For two-year college faculty:
Beyond Crossroads available online at http://beyondcrossroads.matyc.org/


Please direct questions about the forum to Ron Rosier at rosier@georgetown.edu.


CBMS gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Brookhill Institute of Mathematics which is making this forum possible.