MATH 5120 (1543-100), Fall 2014

College Mathematics Teaching for New Teaching Assistants

Catalog Description:
This course prepares new mathematics teaching assistants for undergraduate-level mathematics instruction. Students will investigate the technical, pedagogical, ethical, and other professional dimensions of undergraduate mathematics instruction.
Desired Learning Outcomes:
A successful participant is able to:
Permission. Mathematics Department teaching assistants will be enrolled automatically; others should contact the instructor.
2 (This course counts toward your minimum enrollment but does not count toward the masters program.)
Martin J. Mohlenkamp,, (740)593-1259, 315B Morton Hall.
Office hours: Monday 9:40-10:35am, Wednesday 9:40-10:35am, and Friday 9:40-10:35am, or by appointment.
Web page:
Class hours/ location:
Wednesday 6:20-8:10pm in 215 Morton Hall.
None; materials will be provided. You should read the MAA's A Handbook for Mathematics Teaching Assistants.
Each week an assignment of some type is due. When it makes sense, these will be submitted through Blackboard as .pdf files. Late homework is penalized 5% per day.
Final Exam:
The final exam is scheduled on Monday, December 8, at 7:00 pm. We will substitute a final report/project due at that time.
Attendance is required and is counted as a percentage of your grade. Missed classes may be made up by doing additional course-related work.
Your grade is based on attendance at 20%, homework at 60%, and the final exam/report/project at 20%. An average of 90% guarantees you at least an A-, 80% a B-, 70% a C-, and 60% a D-. Grades are not the point.
Academic Dishonesty:
Your work must be done by you, not by someone else for you. Your words must be your own; any text not your own must be properly quoted and cited. You can ask others questions, look in books, use resources from the internet, and generally use whatever help you can find; such help must be acknowledged by naming the person, citing the book, giving the internet link, etc. A minor, first-time violation of this policy will receive a warning and discussion and clarification of the rules. Serious or second violations will result in a grade penalty on the assignment. Very serious or repeated violations will result in failure in the class and be reported to the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, which may impose additional sanctions. You may appeal any sanctions through the grade appeal process.
Special Needs:
If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You should also register with Student Accessibility Services to obtain written documentation and to learn about the resources they have available.
Learning Resources:
  • Your classmates are your best resource. Use them!
  • MAA's A Handbook for Mathematics Teaching Assistants.
  • Tools for Teaching eBook (on-campus access).
  • Tomorrow's Professor mailing list.
  • Good Problems writing program.
  • LaTeX, Python, and Matlab resources.
  • OHIO Center for Teaching and Learning
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Teaching Programs, Tools, and Resources
  • MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory
  • Open course materials for Teaching College-Level Science and Engineering
  • Math section (pages 10-15) in the ACT College Readiness Standard
  • Math section (pages 4-6) in the Ohio Uniform Statewide Standards for Remediation-Free Status
  • Online Mathematics Teaching Community


    Subject to change.

    WeekDate Topic/Materials Homework due
    0See the orientation page.
    1Wed Aug 27
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Course themes:
      • Tools and knowledge you can immediately use in the classroom.
      • Skill and attitude development for your teaching career.
      • Skills useful for any profession.
    • Set up your class in Blackboard
      • login, select the class you teach.
      • Select "Information", "Build Content", "Item". Put in your contact information, office location, office hours, etc. If you are teaching a coordinated course, link to its main page.
      • Make the course available to the students.
      • (optional) Set up the grade center to display test (or other) grades.
      (Further support)
    • Homework for next week.
    • Explore your classlist:
      • Log into the Faculty and Advising Center; select "Teaching", "Class list and Grading".
      • Hit the people icon by your class to get the classlist.
      • Click the magnifying glass icon by a person to get more info and a little picture. Click the picture to get a bigger one. (There is no good way to get a photo gallery of your class.)
      • Try out the "PDF listing", "PDF", and "Excel" buttons.
    • ConnectMath practice
    orientation evaluation
    2Wed Sep 3
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Who are your students? Making adjustments:
    Peer observation (.tex)
    3Wed Sep 10
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    Tests: Assessment policies and problems:
    • Should you drop the lowest test/quiz/homework?
    • Should you give extra credit?
    • When should you allow make-up tests/quizzes?
    • How can you reduce cheating?
    • What do you do if you think a student is cheating?
    Alternative Assessments:
    Mathematical and pedagogical autobiography (.tex)
    4Wed Sep 17
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    (Featuring Jenny Klein, Assistant Dean of Student Persistence and Success) Intervening:
    Design a test (.tex)
    5Wed Sep 24
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Writing mathematics with \(\LaTeX\)
    Peer observation (.tex)
    6Wed Oct 1
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    Active learning
    Why do it?
    How to do it:
    • Homework for next week.
    Make your test from week 4 in \(\LaTeX\). Submit through blackboard the source (.tex, any graphics) and the resulting .pdf file.
    7Wed Oct 8
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Classroom Craft
    Own the room:
    Arrange the furniture; remove trip hazards; remove broken furniture; discard trash; close curtains; close doors.
    Wait at least 8 seconds for responses; ask "Are there any questions?" not "Does everyone understand?"; try using stoplight cards.
    Projector skills:
    Preload content; use presentation mode; use a large font; adjust lighting; check visibility from the back of the room; use a pointer; do not switch back and forth too much.
    Board skills:
    Work left-to-right and top-to-bottom; use the whole (visible) board; leave material as long as you can before erasing; organize with dividing lines and section headers; write objectives/outline; write large; develop board letters; use colors.
    Vocal Techniques for Actors; open your mouth wider; stretch your mouth; warm up your voice; face the class; shut the doors.
    Body language:
    Varies by culture and gender; be aware.
    If you are not enthusiastic about the topic, act like you are. Spice things up (a little).
    Design an active-learning activity (.tex).
    8Wed Oct 15
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Active learning activities.
    Faculty observation (.tex)
    9Wed Oct 22
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    Syllabus preparation:
    Implement and report on your active-learning activity (.tex).
    10Wed Oct 29
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    Teaching Philosophies and Portfolios (featuring Tim Vickers, Director of the Center for Teaching & Learning)
    Teaching Philosophies
    Teaching Portfolios
    Critique a syllabus (.tex)
    11Wed Nov 5
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Prep for next week: Mathematical software:
    Critique a teaching philosophy (.tex)
    12Wed Nov 12
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for next week.
    Using the web:
    Make a syllabus for one of the Spring semester MATH classes here, pretending you will be the instructor. Clearly label this syllabus as an exercise and not real.
    13Wed Nov 19
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Homework for the last week.

    Doing better next time:

    Student evaluations.
    What to expect
    What do they mean?
    Other forums:
    Rate my Professors
    • example (not from this course)
    • Your Final "Exam"
    Make your (university) webpage. Submit the url through Blackboard.
    14Wed Nov 26 Thanksgiving holiday, no meeting
    15Wed Dec 3
    • Questions, Problems, and Venting.
    • Final "exam".
    End of semester tasks:
    • Submit grades via the online grading system; stick to the MATH 1200 grading scale; for information on the meaning of odd grades, see the catalog
    • Print a copy of your submitted grades and turn it in to the office.
    • Print a copy of your grades spreadsheet and turn it in to the office.
    • Turn the students' final exams in to the office.
    • If you will not teach the same course next semester, turn in your textbook.
    Odds and ends:
    Make your teaching philosophy (.tex)
    16Mon Dec 8 7:00 pm Final Exam (virtual; your physical presence is not required) Substitute summative activity (.tex)

    Martin J. Mohlenkamp
    Last modified: Wed Dec 10 16:49:28 EST 2014