Adjunct Mathematics Instructor Resources and Support: Improving Undergraduate Precalculus Teaching and Learning Experience

Eileen Murray (PI) and Amir Golnabi (Co-PI) received a grant from the National Science Foundation: Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program for $300,000 effective from 08/15/2017 – 07/31/2020

Posted in: Externally Funded Projects

Undergraduate students’ persistence in STEM is heavily influenced by their classroom experiences, particularly in entry-level mathematics courses. Considerable research has been conducted showing that improved instruction by full-time faculty can increase student motivation and persistence in mathematics courses. However, entry-level courses, such as precalculus, are often taught by adjunct and other part-time instructors, who traditionally have tended to be offered only minimal professional development and support for teaching undergraduate mathematics. Thus, there is a pressing need to focus on developing instructional practices among adjunct and other part-time instructors. This project will build a model of course coordination and adjunct instructor support to improve the teaching and learning of precalculus.

While some work has been done to understand the benefits of supports for part-time instructors at the undergraduate level, this work has focused mostly on graduate teaching assistants rather than adjunct instructors. The proposed project will extend this work to adjunct instructors and will contribute to the research base regarding the adjunct instructor population. By building a model of adjunct instructor resources and support, the project will contribute to deeper understanding of how such efforts impact (1) adjunct instructor knowledge and instructional practices, (2) adjunct instructor job satisfaction, and (3) student academic success and retention in STEM majors. This understanding will help other departments and institutions with similar instructor populations to better support their adjunct faculty, with the goal of improving student learning and persistence in precalculus and beyond.

Learn more about the grant