boston college mathematics institute
National Science Foundation Teacher Enhancement Project
Implementing Discrete Mathematics at School Level
Boston College received more than $3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to assist in the implementation of the NCTM Standard on Discrete Mathematics. The project, titled "Implementation of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standard in Discrete Mathematics," was designed to:
- form a nationwide cadre of middle- and secondary-school teachers and collegiate mathematics teacher educators who would acquire some basic knowledge of discrete mathematics topics;
- activate the discrete mathematics standard in their respective classrooms; and
- share instructional experiences with their students and teacher colleagues.
In Phase I, during July 1992, a three-week leadership training program was conducted on Boston College's Chestnut Hill Campus that prepared six leadership teams. The teams developed instructional practices based on the recommendations of the NCTM Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics and prepared an in-service model to be delivered in the summers of 1993 and 1994, at six regional sites per summer.
In Phase II, this same model was delivered in the summers of 1995 and 1996, again at six regional sites per summer. In the summer of 1997, one additional three-week program was held at Boston College for middle- and secondary-school mathematics teachers.
The intensive instructional program ran daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. There were regular informal evening study gatherings, as well as a few special evening sessions.
The program targeted five specific content areas of discrete mathematics:
• Social Decision Making
• Graph Theory
• Counting & Finite Probability
Graphing calculators, spreadsheets, and other computer software packages were an integral part of the discrete mathematics instruction. Homework was assigned daily, while the teachers worked individually and in groups to complete assignments. Participants explored effective leadership development practices and focused on assessment and equity.
At the conclusion of each Summer program, a mini-conference was held. The teacher participants gave presentations on a discrete math topic that they researched and prepared.
Boston College has been the venue for two recent conferences focusing on discrete mathematics. The theme of the December 2000 Conference was the interface between the April 2000 NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and discrete mathematics. The speakers included nationally known mathematicians and mathematics educators, along with a number of the Discrete Mathematics Team Leaders and former participants.
Building on the success of the 2000 conference, a second meeting co-hosted by the Rutgers University Discrete Mathematics Project and the Boston College Mathematics Institute took place in March 2002 at the Chestnut Hill Campus. This was the first meeting that attracted teachers at K–12 levels; previous programs had targeted middle–secondary teachers.
These annual meetings, co-hosted by the Rutgers University Discrete Mathematics Project and the Boston College Mathematics Institute, have continued up to the present. The meeting held in 2009 was dedicated to the memory of Stanley J. Bezuszka, SJ, founder of the Mathematics Institute, who passed away on December 27, 2008.