Math 589: Teaching and Presentation of Mathematics 

INSTRUCTOR: Professor Brooke Shipley, SEO 312 or 508, 

CLASS MEETINGS: Tuesday 2pm - 3:45pm, in SEO 636 


OFFICE HOURS: TBD or by appointment (right before or after class is also a good time for questions) 

COURSE OBJECTIVES: The goal of this two credit hour course is to aid MSCS teaching assistants in developing teaching skills and methods. The course also addresses problems that may arise in the classroom and offers insights and mentoring for a successful graduate career. 

GRADING POLICY: Attendance 20%, Participation 40%, Assignments and Presentations 40%. You are expected to attend all of the class meetings and actively participate; permission for a non-emergency class absence must be requested in advance. 

ATTENDANCE POLICY: Each student is allowed one absence and two late arrivals for personal reasons. After that each absence results in losing 5% of your total grade and each late arrival results in losing 2% of your total grade. 

DISABILITY ACCOMMODATIONS: Students with disabilities who require accommodations for full access and participation in UIC Programs must be registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Please contact DRC at (312) 413-2183 (voice) or (312) 413- 0123 (TDD). 

COURSE BOOK: "Teaching Mathematics in Colleges and Universities: Case Studies for Today's Classroom," by Solomon Friedberg et al. available at the AMS Bookstore among other places. 

COURSE TOPICS:  Teaching Skills and Methods: Active learning, group work, listening to students, pacing your presentation, giving and receiving constructive criticism  Course Mechanics: Using TeX to write a quiz or worksheet, evaluation and grading, dealing with cheating, course evaluations, meeting with supervisors  Graduate Career: Preparing a CV, web page, teaching portfolio, and seminar talk; applying for fellowships, master's exam, choosing an advisor, professional society memberships, employment opportunities, thesis research, balancing roles as student and TA 

OTHER COURSE ACTIVITIES: Teaching presentations by each class member; discussions of classroom case studies from Teaching Mathematics in Colleges and Universities: Case Studies for Today's Classroom, by Solomon Friedberg et al; observations of other teachers

TA RESOURCES: MSCS Graduate Studies and MSCS Graduate Studies and TA Handbook 

August 20:  Assigned reading before you teach:1. Surviving the First Day  2. Read Case 7: Pairing Up  Extra (optional) reading for preparing for your first day of class from Vanderbilt and Rutgers. Also Case 13: There's something about Ted. 

September 1: Assignment due September 22: Visit senior TA's discussion sections 

September 15: Assignment due on the day your group gives a presentation. Visit each other's discussion sections.  Additional questions to consider while watching a discussion session: TA evaluation form. 

October 4: Three assignments for your graduate career. Due November 3; I recommend completing one per week (and you have one week to spare.)
1) Write a CV in TeX. Send your TeX file to me by email. Either send a PDF file of your CV also by email, or hand this in on paper.
Many examples of TeX files which can be modified to write your CV are available here.
2) Write either a quiz or a worksheet for your class (at least 3 problems, possibly using TeX, possibly not, for a student to turn in - so put a space for a name.) Hand this in on paper, or send a PDF by email.
Many examples of TeX files which can be modified to create a quiz are available here.
3) Create your own website. Once it is done, send me a link to your website in an email.
A tutorial for how to create a website is available here. Bring your questions about this on October 20 (we'll have time in class to work on websites, so bring a laptop if you can.)

November 3: CV, worksheet, website due.

November 10: Librarian visits at 2:30pm.

November 17: Class starts at 2:15pm, At 3pm: Panel discussion on jobs outside of academia.
Assignment due December 1: Self-evaluation of teaching. Think about what you have done as a teacher to address at least three questions from this list. Write a few sentences of explanation for each question. (See the middle column, replace "tutor" by "teaching assistant" and answer the questions about yourself.)
We'll also discuss teaching portfolios, see a summary here.

November 24: Before class read Case 8: Quicksand of Problem Four for discussion in class.

December 1: Before class read Case 9: Salad Days.


Let me know if you have other suggestions to add to this section. 

Material which encourages more active learning: 

GoodQuestions is a pedagogical strategy that aims to raise the visibility of the key concepts and to promote a more active learning environment. 

Introduction to Abstract Mathematics through Inquiry is a textbook (by Brian Katz and Michael Starbird) using inquiry-based strategies. The "reader" is guided to fill in the proofs. 

Michael Starbird also has another text Number Theory Through Inquiry (written with David Marshall and Edward Odell.) 

Fostering Algebraic Thinking by Mark Driscoll is a guide for teachers for grades 6 to 10, but it would be a valuable read for those TAs who want to understand student's preparation (or lack there of) and to use strategies to improve student's algebraic thinking. For example, Chapter 1 is focused on "What kinds of open questions can foster algebraic thinking, and when is it best to use them?" (I just bought this book, if you would like to borrow it at some point please ask.)


The American Mathematical Society has many resources for current graduate students and for recent Ph.D.s here, here (with UIC people pictured), and here. See also career information from the American Statistical Association, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and Mathematical Association of America. 

Non-academic careers: Versatile PhD is a site with information to help graduate students prepare for non-academic careers. UIC is a member, so you can access the premium content. 

A New York Times article Rehab for Doctoral Defectors 

A pretty good description of math reserach: 

Mathematics: What do grad students in math do all day? or if that link doesn't work, try here.