I don’t know if this qualifies as a “civic issue” but here it is anyway: IMMEDIATE OUTCOME OF ONE LEARNING SESSION. We’ve all been students, we know the feeling of going to a class one day, learning something, and urging to use (apply) that newly acquired knowledge right away. With thoughts ranging from “I have no clue whatsoever” or “I don’t care” to “If this works, I’m going to be #1 on the planet”, this aspect of student perception seems to be of significant importance to the student’s further evolution (attitude).

I’m thinking of trying to find “premeditated” answers to the question “How do I use what I learned today?” and even present some of them before the question is asked (in the introduction of the new topic), of course keeping the rest for post-act.

I feel that inter-disciplinary cooperation might prove itself useful.

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## About Dr. J. Metzker

I believe in the power of a liberal education to transform individuals and society. I am currently the Executive Director of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. Formerly, I led a community engagement initiative and held a full professorship in chemistry at a public liberal arts university. I am a proud product of The Evergreen State College.

I think for the group to give advice we might need to know about the specific content of your courses. What is an example of a lesson where a student may walk away wondering how they would use what they learned. I challenge the rest of the group to tie George’s content to a civic issue they are interested in. Math is wonderful for these kinds of connections because math is used in most problems in one way or another. Amy, do you have any suggestions??

Reading Leng’s post I realized that, as mortgages started to become a serious issue, I can address various aspects of mortgage affordability and complications in one of my classes. We already do some interest-related problems in our precalculus classes, but I was thinking about going a little deeper in the hot topic of mortgages (design, explain, experiment with mortgage calculators, etc.)

Population models – for example about endangered species – might be a good way to showcase a real life example of how calculus or matrix models and forecasting are useful. It wasn’t until I was a grad student that I realized the usefulness of calculus. And linear algebra – who knew!

In regards to your post on mine, I could see how math could be related to alternative energy. I’ve seen the engineer’s perspective (which is heavily math related), but that might be too in-depth for students to grasp in a 1 semester course. There really aren’t a lot of simple equations for evaluating this kind of stuff.

I wonder if a cost analysis of products in-out would be too dry for students to get into?

I like the idea of morgage calculations or maybe something to do with the stock exchange & profit? I would be interested in that type of class.

I think students might not be interested in pure math. But it is likely they like to do some math on some issue that is related to their wealth, money. For example, George can design some questions like how to changes in gas price will affect their driving behavior and their expense on other stuff. What is the marginal effect?

Just to add my two cents. Amy and I were very successful in applying math to data in our clustered courses. Now, this was a lower level math course but we had amazing gains in asking the students to find a data set in their science project on climate change and tell the story of that data in the context of the science using the language and tools from their math course.

I agree that finacial examples would definitely keep students interested – and maybe even teach them why carrying tons of credit card debt is a bad idea.

Public health / disease models might also provide relevant/interesting examples.

I finally managed to pick a course. Here it is:

Course: Mathematical Modeling

Level: Entry

Faculty: George Cazacu

Course Description

This course is an introduction to mathematical modeling. Graphical, numerical, symbolic, and verbal techniques will be used to describe and explore real world phenomena. Special emphasis will be placed on financial examples like mortgages, loans, lottery, and casino games. Elementary functions, supported by the use of appropriate technology and effective communication of quantitative concepts and results will be used to investigate and analyze applied problems and questions.

Course Goals:

1. Students will use graphical, symbolic, and verbal techniques to describe and explore real-word situations and phenomena.

2. Students will develop and strengthen their basic manipulative skills in college-level mathematics.

3. Students will enhance their ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing.

4. Students will make use of elementary functions and appropriate technology to mathematically translate and investigate real-world situations and phenomena.