Resources for Service-Learning and Mathematics
So you want to implement some service in your mathematics course, and do it in such a way that it both honestly adds to the mathematical understanding of your students and views the clients as true partners in the learning enterprise? Then you want to know about "Service-Learning and Mathematics".
Despite my best efforts, after over five years this page remains one of the top-ranked pages in searches for service-learning and mathematics. I view this as a bug; there should be many better ones than this very minimalist page! But such is the state of the discipline.
So below I will continue to (lightly) curate various links and resources regarding service-learning and mathematics (SLM), primarily at the collegiate level in the United States.
- Brief Introductions
- Collections of Resources/Case Studies
- Standalone Articles
- Further Resources
Maybe you don't really get what all the fuss is about. Look here for
mathematics-specific introductions. I will not mention the many, many excellent
general introductions to service-learning! (For my own view on the relation to
the difficult-to-define notion of
social justice, see these
- There is a guest post for "Math Ed Matters" by yours truly which provides an introduction focused on a broad overview of where to look.
- The official AMS blog on teaching has "A Skeptic's Guide" which has very good warnings and tips for the unsure.
- Dr. Josh Wilkerson has presented a number of times on service-learning and his research in math ed is related to this, so you should look at his introduction to how it looks in mathematics.
- The introductory articles by C. Hadlock from the MAA book and PRIMUS special issue (see collections) are very good if you have access to them; a version of Hadlock's views on this are below.
- Below I mention a video of a presentation by Sara Billey which can be a nice introduction, especially for those looking at modeling courses.
There are some actual collections of resources which I can recommend. Unfortunately, there are not many available. Currently I am not individually reviewing these, but may create a fuller "quick-read" summary of topics at some point in the future.
- Over a decade ago, Charles Hadlock edited Mathematics in Service to the Community, which still should be seen as the most comprehensive single resource for ideas about implementing SLM. Published by the MAA.
- There is a PRIMUS special issue on this topic. I coedited this with Kelly Black and Dick Jardine. Several of the papers are based on talks in the next bullet, but several others worth noting that are about somewhat unusual topics are the ones about the University of Nebraska's "Math in the City" course and an article about institutional research as service-learning.
- Below, I have collected papers based on a contributed paper session at the 2011 Joint Mathematics Meetings which I co-organized with Robert Perlis and Rachelle Ankney. All authors have given permission for these to be posted, but please keep in mind that they retain copyright.
- Josh Wilkerson's site (mentioned above), "Service-Learning in Mathematics" looks much nicer than this one and has links to quite a few resources, especially in statistics.
There are really a lot of good ideas in the collections. However, there are a number (not enough) of articles outside of collections which also give case studies or other tips. Please email me (address below) with relevant articles I am not aware of.
- A fairly early article on this topic in Mathematics Teacher (also at JSTOR) describes experiences at Shorter College through a framework of different levels of service and learning interaction developed by Robert Sigmon.
- MAA FOCUS, in its December 2009/January 2010 issue, has an article by Robert Perlis on using service-learning in a large gen-ed course. (text-only)
- Mathematicians at Seattle University have been exploring these issues
in the literature for some time.
- An initial article regarding experience in general education courses appeared in Numeracy, with a subsequent one in the journal Peer Review. A couple years later, an analysis of five semesters' worth of teaching this course appeared in PRIMUS.
- An analysis of service-learning using tutoring in precalculus at the same institution also appeared in the AMS education blog, with a more full paper investigating these outcomes appearing in PRIMUS. In this article it is less clear whether some of the mathematical (as opposed to other) benefits were due to the choice of service as tutoring rather than some other service; it also has some worthwhile commentary on mandatory versus optional service-learning. For slightly more detail on one of the first offerings, see the RUME 2016 Conference Proceedings.
- PRIMUS also recently published an evaluation of a more consulting-based project with service components at St. Olaf College.
- The Journal of Statistics Education published an article a decade ago which is a concise and useful summary from a basic stats course.
- A more recent article describing consulting-type projects with a social justice orientation is this one in PRIMUS by Unfried and Canner at Cal State Monterey Bay. It spends more time than usual on things like how to train students to communicate with community partners.
- Denison University used to have a nice (if somewhat scattered) pdf (link broken) of various options in mathematics and computer science; however, I could not find a current version of it on their website.
- Discrete mathematics and routing is a popular topic for more advanced service options; this PRIMUS article describes one for Meals on Wheels done at VMI.
- The Engaging Mathematics project has a fairly detailed outline for a community-based project in an introductory statistics course, which could be expanded to a service-learning option.
- The MAA FOCUS magazine profiled Gannon University and some of the mathematical service options, which included some more unusual service projects not designed for math majors, but nevertheless with a mathematical flair, as well as a modeling experience for majors.
- The Electronic Seminar on Mathematics Education has a great video (slides here) featuring Sara Billey of the University of Washington talking about a discrete math modeling course with many excellent service-learning projects. This is the only video I know of specifically about service-learning in mathematics, and it does a very nice job summarizing many of the key issues in trying to offer such a course.
- There have been several interesting recent articles about service-learning
in pre-service elementary education courses, not necessarily courses focused on mathematics.
- Madeline Kovarik, then at Rollins College, published an article about the effects of service-learning in a pre-service educators course, focusing on number sense in kindergarten. What is interesting about this experience is that while it was not a mathematics course, the study design was aimed at both college and school students' mathematical senses.
- This article by Lisa Kirtman also addresses the experiences of pre-service teachers, with some impressive qualitative results relating to perception of mathematics.
- Debbie Verzosa reports in PRIMUS about a project in Mindanao (Philippines) using secondary education students but aimed squarely at elementary students as well usable by elementary education students. Of note are some culturally specific observations for implementation, as well as specific improvement in the pre-service teachers' mathematical understanding.
Remarkably, there are three doctoral dissertations on this topic.
- Jennifer Leong has a dissertation from Georgia State regarding high-school statistics and service-learning, from a point of view of affect. Since many college statistics courses are not so different from high school courses, this is relevant to this context.
- Cynthia Roemer of Union County College wrote a dissertation at Columbia on this topic entitled, appropriately enough, "Service-learning and mathematics" (link broken). It would be very helpful to have a shortened version of both the study and some of the background summary in the literature, but unfortunately even acquiring a copy of this requires some diligence.
- More recently, Josh Wilkerson's dissertation on mathematical affect through service-learning is available on his website. A portion of it has since also been published in PRIMUS under the title "Cultivating a Productive-Disposition Toward Mathematics by Engaging in Service-Learning".
There are some other resources as well. Unfortunately, the main clearinghouses for such things are very light on mathematics.
- Campus Compact has a Resources page whose location moves around at times. It has one sample syllabus (at the same institution as this resource), though the resource page under "Disciplines" with science may have other useful ideas (mathematics is under liberal arts in this list).
- There seem to have been a few references I am not familiar with at the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (bottom of page). Note that the current version of this site is structured differently and less helpfully (i.e., no math).
- There is a different Clearinghouse run by the National Youth Leadership Council which seems to have some good resources, but it's harder to search for specific topics in an organized fashion.
- There are several useful links (including to some of the articles references here) on a page from a math tutoring service.
- Some campuses also have information on their websites. I provide the following links as a service, but do not have time to continually check whether the links remain active. Because, frankly, they don't!
I have two personal beefs with the final point above which you can just skip unless you are bored and want to hear my opinion on institutional politics in the US academic landscape.
- First, note that sometimes it is unclear to campus media services the difference between BIG (Business, Industry, Government) consulting projects and true service projects, though the mathematical value is similar in many courses. Buyer beware.
- Secondly, it is a continued frustration how many "404 Page Not Found" errors links I had saved years ago about service-learning now give. Service-learning continues to have no fixed institutional home on many campuses, and trendy name changes in "centers for teaching" or other bodies riddle this. If any administrators are reading this, please give a stable web presence to your service-learning resources - or at least give redirects, as I did with this page when I relocated it slightly!
Innovations in Service-Learning at All Levels
In January 2011, Karl-Dieter Crisman, Rachelle Ankney, and Robert Perlis organized an MAA contributed paper session at the Joint Mathematics Meetings on service-learning in collegiate mathematics. Talks were presented on examples of successful projects from the most basic courses through opportunities for graduate students.
It proved to be very popular - all were well attended by JMM standards, and one talk was even standing room only! There was also a great introductory talk by Charles Hadlock, the editor of Mathematics in Service to the Community.
As a service to this community (those interested in mathematics and service-learning at the post-secondary level), this very basic website gives links to pdf versions of all twelve talks from this session, as well as abstracts and contact information. All authors have given permission for these to be posted, but please keep in mind that they retain copyright. Feel free to contact them with questions and ideas! (If only we had gotten video of some of the talks.)
Talks on Service-Learning
|Overall Models and Information||Opportunities and Challenges in Incorporating Service-Learning in Mathematical Sciences Programs (talk) (abstract)||Charles Hadlock|
|Overall Models and Information||Community Service-Learning in Mathematics: Models for Course Design (talk) (abstract)||Debra Hydorn|
|Quantitative Literacy and General Education Courses||Serve While You Learn: A Quantitative Literacy Course (talk) (abstract)||Karen Stanish|
|Quantitative Literacy and General Education Courses||Serving Hope - How to build service-learning into your non-major mathematics courses to benefit the local community (talk) (abstract)||Melinda Schulteis|
|Quantitative Literacy and General Education Courses||Just Math: Learning about Justice with Math vs. Doing Justice with Math (talk) (abstract)||Rachelle Ankney|
|Mid-Range Courses (with both majors and non-majors)||Real Data & Service Learning Projects in Statistics (talk) (abstract)||Brad Bailey and Robb Sinn|
|Mid-Range Courses (with both majors and non-majors)||Mathematical and Moral Development Through Service-Learning (talk) (abstract)||Karl-Dieter Crisman|
|Mid-Range Courses (with both majors and non-majors)||Service-Learning in an Interdisciplinary Mathematics and Economics Course (talk) (abstract)||Morteza Shafii-Mousavi and Paul Kochanowski|
|Upper-Level and Graduate Students||Disaster Modeling -- Beyond the Numbers (talk) (abstract)||Benjamin Galluzzo|
|Upper-Level and Graduate Students||A Model for the Community (talk) (abstract)||Tim Chartier|
|Upper-Level and Graduate Students||A Service Project in a Capstone Modeling Course (talk) (abstract)||Ethan Berkove|
|Upper-Level and Graduate Students||Northern Territory Maths Camp (talk) (abstract)||B. Carrigan, C. Carrigan, B. Kozak, and C. Rodger|