You are here

Contributed Paper Sessions

The Mathematical Association of America will hold its 90th summer meeting August 2 through August 4, 2012, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Click on the session title or scroll down for details of this year's sessions.

  • 1. Open and Accessible Problems in Number Theory

    Thursday, August 2, 1:00-4:15 p.m., Hall of Ideas E

    Undergraduate research in mathematics has become a fundamental part of the mathematics program at many colleges and universities. Number theory is a subject rich with easily stated yet nontrivial problems. This makes it a great source for undergraduate research projects. In this session, we invite presentations about open problems in number theory that are suitable for undergraduate research and/or for joint faculty/student research. We also invite talks that present results concerning these problems. Presentations from elementary, algebraic, analytic, combinatorial, transcendental, and any other branch of number theory are welcome.

    • Aliza Steurer, Dominican University
    • Tom Hagedorn, The College of New Jersey
  • 2. Open and Accessible Problems in Combinatorics and Graph Theory

    Friday, August 3, 8:30-11:05 a.m., Hall of Ideas E

    Undergraduate research is more popular than ever, and there remains a high demand for open and accessible problems for students to tackle. Combinatorics and graph theory provide an ideal combination of easily stated, but more difficult to solve, problems. We invite presentations about open problems in combinatorics and graph theory suitable for undergraduate research or joint faculty and undergraduate research. Presentations giving results about these types of problems are also welcome.

    • Cayla McBee, Povidence College
    • Lynette Boos, Providence College
  • 3. Engaging Undergraduates in Geometry Courses

    Part 1, Friday, August 3, 1:00-3:15 p.m., Hall of Ideas F
    Part 2, Saturday , August 4, 1:00-2:55 p.m., Hall of Ideas F

    There are a variety of geometry courses: some take an intuitive, coordinate, vector, and/or synthetic approach; others focus on Euclidean geometry and include metric and synthetic approaches as axiomatic systems; and still others include topics in Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries and provide opportunities for comparisons and contrasts between the two.

    In this session, we invite presentations that address the following questions:

    • What approaches and pedagogical tools are best?
    • What are particularly good topics with which to begin geometry courses?
    • What are some of the most enjoyable proofs to share with students?
    • What are the best ways in which to explore polyhedra, tessellations, symmetry groups and coordinate geometry?
    • How can we help students to develop the visualization skills for two and three dimensions as well as to help them to develop the mathematical reasoning skills that are important for studying/exploring/applying geometry at any level?
    • What are the best ways in which to compare and contrast Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry?
    • How can we best convey the beauty of geometry to students?

    Presenters are welcome to share interesting applications, favorite proofs, activities, demonstrations, projects, and ways in which to guide students to explore and to learn geometry. Presentations providing resources and suggestions for those teaching geometry courses for the first time or for those wishing to improve/redesign their geometry courses are encouraged.

    • Sarah Mabrouk, Framingham State University
    • James Hamblin, Shippensburg University
    • M. Brad Henry, Siena College
  • 4. Instructional Support Roles for Undergraduates in Mathematics and Statistics

    Thursday, August 3, 1:00-3:35 p.m., Hall of Ideas F

    Undergraduate students in mathematics and statistics departments can assume numerous innovative instructional support roles in addition to the traditional role of grader. They can serve as undergraduate teaching assistants, peer tutors, study session leaders, and statistics lab assistants, to name a few. Assigning undergraduates to these instructional support roles benefits all those involved: undergraduate assistants develop important life and career skills; students receiving the instructional support get additional attention, and have the opportunity to communicate with a peer; and the instructor and the department benefit from the additional help they receive and are able to give students enrolled in their classes more individualized attention.

    This session is open to talks aimed to introduce the different ways undergraduates participate in the instructional activities at various institutions. We encourage speakers to include a discussion of the benefits and challenges of their programs and the training/support that students receive while participating in the program. Talks focused on programs based in individual classrooms, as well as those that are department-wide and university-wide are all welcome. We also invite talks focused on improving the efficiency of the more traditional support roles such as grading and common math tutoring.

    • Feryal Alayont, Grand Valley State University
    • Ksenija Simic-Muller, Pacific Lutheran University
  • 5. Assessment of Courses for Students in Math-Intensive Majors

    Saturday, August 4, 1:00-2:15 p/m. Hall of Ideas E

    How does assessment inform the instructor about what students have learned? How can assessment results lead to changes in what content is covered or how it is covered? How can assessment impact what is included in STEM-related degree programs? This session invites presenters to share effective methods for both formative and summative assessment of courses that are part of math-intensive degree programs. Aside from mathematics majors, degree programs of this nature include those in which students take two or more mathematics courses (i.e. economics, business, chemistry,biology, etc.) Talks should include the results of the assessments as well as how those results have been used to make meaningful changes to courses and/or degree programs. The focus of reports should include, but are not necessarily limited to innovative assessment models, ways to analyze assessment results, and course or program improvements based on an implemented assessment program.

    • Aimee Ellington, Virginia Commonwealth University
    • Catherine Murphy, Purdue University
    • Committee on Assessment
  • 6. Undergraduate Research Activities in Mathematical and Computational Biology

    Thursday, August 2, 1:00-5:35 p.m., Ballroom B

    This session is dedicated to aspects of undergraduate research in mathematical and computational biology. First and foremost, this session would like to highlight research results of projects that either were conducted by undergraduates or were collaborations between undergraduates and their faculty mentors. Of particular interest are those collaborations that involve students and faculty from both mathematics and biology. Secondly, as many institutions have started undergraduate research programs in this area frequently with the help of initial external funding, the session is interested in the process and logistics of starting a program and maintaining a program even after the initial funding expires. Important issues include faculty development and interdisciplinary collaboration, student preparation and selection, the structure of research programs, the acquisition of resources to support the program, and the subsequent achievements of students who participate in undergraduate research in mathematical and computational biology. The session is also interested in undergraduate research projects in mathematical and computational biology, which are mentored by a single faculty mentor without the support of a larger program.

    We seek scholarly papers that present results from undergraduate research projects in mathematical or computational biology, discuss the creation, maintenance, or achievements of an undergraduate research program, or describe the establishment or maintenance of collaborations between faculty and students in mathematics and biology.

    • Timothy D. Comar, Benedictine University
  • 7. Inquiry-Based Learning Best Practices 

    Part 1, Friday, August 3, 9:30-11:25 a.m., Hall of Ideas G
    Part 2, Friday, August 3, 1:00-4:55 p.m., Hall of Ideas G
    Part 3, Saturday, August 4, 9:30-11:25 a.m., Hall of Ideas G

In many mathematics classrooms, doing mathematics means following the rules dictated by the teacher and knowing mathematics means remembering and applying these rules. However, an inquiry-based learning (IBL) approach challenges students to create/discover mathematics.

Boiled down to its essence, IBL is a method of teaching that engages students in sense-making activities. Students are given tasks requiring them to conjecture, experiment, explore, and solve problems. Rather than showing facts or a clear, smooth path to a solution, the instructor guides students via well-crafted problems through an adventure in mathematical discovery.

The talks in this session will focus on IBL best practices. We seek both novel ideas and effective approaches to IBL. Claims made should be supported by data (test scores, survey results, etc.) or anecdotal evidence. This session will be of interest to instructors new to IBL, as well as seasoned practitioners looking for new ideas.

  • Organizers:
    • Dana Ernst, Plymouth State University
    • Angie Hodge, University of Nebraska at Omaha
    • Stan Yoshinobu, California Polytechnic State University
  • 8. Incorporating Writing and Editing into Mathematics Classes

    Part 1, Thursday, August 2, 10:40-11:55 a.m., Hall of Ideas H
    Part 2, Thursday, August 2, 1:00-4:35 p.m., Hall of Ideas H

    Many students earn degrees in mathematics with little practice in writing and editing. Recognizing the lifelong need of graduates to be able to clearly articulate ideas, institutions are placing a greater emphasis on writing throughout the mathematics curriculum. This session invites presentations describing approaches to incorporating writing and editing into mathematics courses. Presenters are asked to discuss any innovative and original projects, papers and problems that involve both writing and editing in their courses. While contributions detailing any form of mathematical writing are welcome, we are particularly seeking examples and approaches where editing is an essential component. The main goal of this session is to highlight various ways writing and editing have been infused into mathematics curricula and inspire instructors to introduce writing and editing into their courses.

    • Martin Montgomery, Sam Houston State University
    • Ryan Stuffelbeam, Transylvania University
  • 9. Recreational Mathematics: New Problems and New Solutions

    Part 1, Friday, August 3, 1:00-3:15 p.m., Hall of Ideas E
    Part 2, Saturday, August 4, 9:30-11:45 a.m., Hall of Ideas H

    As with all mathematics, recreational mathematics continues to expand through the solution of new problems and the development of novel solutions to old problems. For the purposes of this session, the definition of recreational mathematics will be a broad one. The primary guideline used to determine the suitability of a paper will be the understandability of the mathematics. Papers submitted to this session should be accessible to undergraduate students. Novel applications as well as new approaches to old problems are welcome. Examples of use of the material in the undergraduate classroom are encouraged.

    • Paul Coe, Dominican University
    • Kristen Schemmerhorn, Dominican University
  • 10. The History of Mathematics and its Uses in Teaching and Learning Mathematics

    Friday, August 3, 1:00-2:55 p.m., Hall of Ideas H

    Mathematicians, historians, educators, independent scholars and science writers use the increasingly available corpus of historical mathematical literature to study, understand and elucidate topics mathematical, scientific, historical, intellectual, literary and otherwise. Contributions to this session are case studies in the use of material drawn from the history of mathematics. Speakers describe 1) how they were led to consider this material for their project, 2) how they went about finding, exploring and mining the material, and 3) the impact that the material had on the success or failure of their project.

    • Kelli Slaten, University of North Carolina Wilmington
    • Scott Guthery, Docent Press
  • 11. Math Circles: Best Practices

    Thursday, August 2, 1:00-4:15p.m., Hall of Ideas G

    A math circle is broadly defined as a sustained enrichment experience that brings mathematics professionals in direct contact with pre-college students and/or their teachers. Circles foster passion and excitement for deep mathematics. The SIGMAA on Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA MCST) supports MAA members who share an interest in initiating and coordinating math circles.

    SIGMAA MCST invites speakers to report on best practices in math circles with which they are or have been associated. Talks could address effective organizational strategies, successful math circle presentations, or innovative activities for students, for instance. Ideally, talks in this session will equip individuals currently involved in a math circle with ideas for improving some aspect of their circle, while also inspiring listeners who have only begun to consider math circles.

    • James Tanton, St. Mark's Institute of Mathematics
    • Tatiana Shubin, San Jose State University
    • Sam Vandervelde, St. Lawrence University
  • 12. General Contributed Paper Sessions

    The General Contributed Paper Sessions accept papers in all areas of collegiate mathematics, curriculum, and pedagogy. The contributed talks at MathFest 2012 have been scheduled as follows:

    • GCPS #1: Research in Graph Theory or Combinatorics
      Thursday, 8:00-9:25 a.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #2: Interdisciplinary Topics in Mathematics
      Thursday, 8:00 – 10:10 a.m., Meeting Room R
    • GCPS #3: Teaching or Learning Introductory Mathematics
      Thursday, 1:00 – 4:55 p.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #4: Mathematics and Technology
      Thursday, 2:30 – 4:40 p.m., Meeting Room R
    • GCPS #5: History or Philosophy of Mathematics
      Friday, 8:00 – 10:25 a.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #6: Modeling, Applications, Probability, or Statistics
      Friday, 8:00 – 10:10 a.m., Meeting Room R
    • GCPS #7: Teaching or Learning Calculus
      Friday, 1:00 – 5:25 p.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #8: Research in Algebra, Topology, or Analysis
      Friday, 1:00 – 3:55 p.m., Meeting Room R
    • GCPS #9: Assessment, Mentoring, or Outreach
      Saturday, 8:00-10:25 a.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #10: Research in Applied Mathematics
      Saturday, 8:00 – 10:10 a.m., Meeting Room R
    • GCPS #11: Teaching and Learning Advanced Mathematics
      Saturday, 1:00 – 2:55 p.m., Meeting Room Q
    • GCPS #12: Research in Number Theory, Geometry, or Linear Algebra
      Saturday, 1:00 – 3:10 p.m., Meeting Room R
    • David Housman, Goshen College
    • Nancy Neudauer, Pacific University



The deadline for student papers at MathFest was June 8, 2012 . Every student paper session room will be equipped with a computer projector and a screen. Presenters must provide their own laptops or have access to one. Each student talk is fifteen minutes in length.

MAA Sessions
Students who wish to present at the MAA Student Paper Sessions at MathFest 2012 in Madison must be sponsored by a faculty advisor familiar with the work to be presented. Some funding to cover costs (up to $750) for student presenters is available. At most one student from each institution or REU can receive full funding; additional such students may be funded at a lower rate. All presenters are expected to take full part in the meeting and attend indicated activities sponsored for students on all three days of the conference. Abstracts and student travel grant applications should be submitted at /mathfest/abstracts. For additional information visit /students/undergrad.

Contact Person: Daluss Siewert, Black Hills State University

Pi Mu Epsilon Sessions
Pi Mu Epsilon student speakers must be nominated by their chapter advisors. Application forms for PME student speakers will be available by March 1, 2012 on the PME web site A PME student speaker who attends all the PME activities is eligible for transportation reimbursement up to $600, and additional speakers may be eligible with a maximum $1200 reimbursement per chapter. PME speakers receive a free ticket to the PME Banquet with their conference registration fee. See the PME web site for more details.

Contact Person: Angela Spalsbury, Youngstown State University