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7. Implementation

During the recent consortium planning effort, dozens of meetings were held across Long Island that resulted in the creation and identification of a critical mass of faculty at several Long Island institutions. Some attendees immediately started using cooperative learning activities in their classes. Physics and mathematics faculty at Suffolk CC and other institutions have begun to coordinate their choice of examples in courses with large co-registration´┐Ż something many "had always meant to do" but had in fact not done until prodded by consortium discussions. Faculty have shown an eagerness to take advantage of expertise and course materials developed at other consortium institutions, such as the materials for the innovative Mathematics for Biology course being developed as part of Stony Brook's Howard Hughes Medical Institute education grant.

In the current planning phase, the project has been working to secure strong support from administrators at individual institutions and in the SUNY Central Administration. As a result of these efforts, Dean Yacov Shamash of the Stony Brook College of Engineering and Applied Sciences last month announced to his faculty that henceforth all promotion files to Full Professor in the College would have to contain evidence of instructional or curricular reform activities (see letter from Dean Shamash in Appendix 3). The letter from Stony Brook President Shirley Kenny gives her commitment to see Dean Shamash's policy accepted by other units at Stony Brook. We have considerable optimism for seeing this policy adopted throughout the SUNY system (for faculty in all departments). With this form of strong support of the top campus administrators, we expect to obtain the backing of department chairs to encourage and reward participation of their faculty in the consortium's reform efforts.

In addition to having strong support from academic leaders, the consortium will use the following 'barbecue' model to obtain faculty participation in the project. Each institution has at least a dozen faculty in different departments who for some time have been experimenting with various new teaching methods and curricula to make their instruction more effective, but most have worked in isolation. They are like glowing embers. The local disciplinary groups and local organizing committees aim to bring these people together to form a radiant fire that could not have occurred within individual departments. Then a score or more of nearby 'briquettes' that had been warmed by being close to the embers will be added to the fire. Finally, all the other briquettes, that are cold but still have the ability to flame, will be added. We seek to win over faculty one person at a time with a variety of different instructional reform efforts: precalculus reform, new curricula, use of technology, Treisman-type minority help groups, etc.

We feel that the calculus reform movement provides an "existence proof" that large numbers of faculty can be persuaded to rethink how they teach and how their students learn. While our project may seem more challenging, we feel it will be easier to engage faculty in creating an interconnected learning environment on Long Island with a large local support network than it was to engage the thousands of faculty spread across the country to make changes in calculus instruction with minimal local support.

SUNY-wide Implementation: About 100 faculty from across New York came to Albany on November 11-12, 1994 for a SUNY-sponsored conference about this initiative (Appendix 4 gives the conference program). There were three parallel sessions on multidisciplinary curriculum reform, on pedagogy, and on calculus reform, covering topics such as integrated math/physics laboratories and computer-centered, group-learning efforts. No single topic alone is likely to have drawn these 100 people, but faculty who came for one or two topics found unexpected connections with people interested in other topics. Since that conference, many additional SUNY faculty have asked to participate in this project.

There are currently a number of innovative efforts underway in upstate SUNY institutions (several NSF supported) involving all the activities discussed in section 5. Perhaps the most successful (and most written about) mathematics program in the country is at SUNY-Potsdam, where innovative instruction is a tradition. The existing upstate expertise and eagerness to participate, along with the project experience gained on Long Island, should help smooth the SUNY-wide implementation. Moreover, the SUNY Provost will make planning grants in 1996-97 to the three upstate SUNY University Centers (similar to the NSF planning grant the Long Island consortium now has).

We expect to obtain very strong administrative support for project activities from SUNY Central Administration and local upstate campus officials. In addition to the planning grants, the SUNY Provost will seek a special legislative initiative to provide state support for the upstate phase of the project. Similar special legislative initiatives have been funded in the past during tight budgets, and we fully expect such funding now. Without it, upstate participation will proceed but be more uneven, with excellent involvement at many institutions but little involvement at some.

During the recent consortium planning effort, dozens of meetings were held across Long Island that resulted in the creation and identification of a critical mass of faculty at several Long Island institutions. Some attendees immediately started using cooperative learning activities in their classes. Physics and mathematics faculty at Suffolk CC and other institutions have begun to coordinate their choice of examples in courses with large co-registration´┐Ż something many "had always meant to do" but had in fact not done until prodded by consortium discussions. Faculty have shown an eagerness to take advantage of expertise and course materials developed at other consortium institutions, such as the materials for the innovative Mathematics for Biology course being developed as part of Stony Brook's Howard Hughes Medical Institute education grant.

In the current planning phase, the project has been working to secure strong support from administrators at individual institutions and in the SUNY Central Administration. As a result of these efforts, Dean Yacov Shamash of the Stony Brook College of Engineering and Applied Sciences last month announced to his faculty that henceforth all promotion files to Full Professor in the College would have to contain evidence of instructional or curricular reform activities (see letter from Dean Shamash in Appendix 3). The letter from Stony Brook President Shirley Kenny gives her commitment to see Dean Shamash's policy accepted by other units at Stony Brook. We have considerable optimism for seeing this policy adopted throughout the SUNY system (for faculty in all departments). With this form of strong support of the top campus administrators, we expect to obtain the backing of department chairs to encourage and reward participation of their faculty in the consortium's reform efforts.

In addition to having strong support from academic leaders, the consortium will use the following 'barbecue' model to obtain faculty participation in the project. Each institution has at least a dozen faculty in different departments who for some time have been experimenting with various new teaching methods and curricula to make their instruction more effective, but most have worked in isolation. They are like glowing embers. The local disciplinary groups and local organizing committees aim to bring these people together to form a radiant fire that could not have occurred within individual departments. Then a score or more of nearby 'briquettes' that had been warmed by being close to the embers will be added to the fire. Finally, all the other briquettes, that are cold but still have the ability to flame, will be added. We seek to win over faculty one person at a time with a variety of different instructional reform efforts: precalculus reform, new curricula, use of technology, Treisman-type minority help groups, etc.

We feel that the calculus reform movement provides an "existence proof" that large numbers of faculty can be persuaded to rethink how they teach and how their students learn. While our project may seem more challenging, we feel it will be easier to engage faculty in creating an interconnected learning environment on Long Island with a large local support network than it was to engage the thousands of faculty spread across the country to make changes in calculus instruction with minimal local support.

SUNY-wide Implementation: About 100 faculty from across New York came to Albany on November 11-12, 1994 for a SUNY-sponsored conference about this initiative (Appendix 4 gives the conference program). There were three parallel sessions on multidisciplinary curriculum reform, on pedagogy, and on calculus reform, covering topics such as integrated math/physics laboratories and computer-centered, group-learning efforts. No single topic alone is likely to have drawn these 100 people, but faculty who came for one or two topics found unexpected connections with people interested in other topics. Since that conference, many additional SUNY faculty have asked to participate in this project.

There are currently a number of innovative efforts underway in upstate SUNY institutions (several NSF supported) involving all the activities discussed in section 5. Perhaps the most successful (and most written about) mathematics program in the country is at SUNY-Potsdam, where innovative instruction is a tradition. The existing upstate expertise and eagerness to participate, along with the project experience gained on Long Island, should help smooth the SUNY-wide implementation. Moreover, the SUNY Provost will make planning grants in 1996-97 to the three upstate SUNY University Centers (similar to the NSF planning grant the Long Island consortium now has).

We expect to obtain very strong administrative support for project activities from SUNY Central Administration and local upstate campus officials. In addition to the planning grants, the SUNY Provost will seek a special legislative initiative to provide state support for the upstate phase of the project. Similar special legislative initiatives have been funded in the past during tight budgets, and we fully expect such funding now. Without it, upstate participation will proceed but be more uneven, with excellent involvement at many institutions but little involvement at some.

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The Long Island Consortium is sponsored by the NSF Initiative: Mathematical Sciences and Their Application Throughout the Curriculum, DUE #9555142. The original NSF proposal can be accessed by clicking here.

Last updated October 7, 1997. Please direct comments or suggestions to Webmaster@licil.org