Chapter 8


Links Professionalism with its core values of expertise, autonomy, commitment, and responsibility (1) is at the heart of improving student success in mathematics.  All two-year college mathematics faculty need to possess a strong academic preparation, participate in supportive professional development, exhibit the capacity for change and improvement, and shoulder the responsibility of carrying out multifaceted professional activities.  Growing in knowledge of both mathematical content and pedagogical strategies, providing quality instruction, and exhibiting professional excellence are the results of deliberate faculty action. 

Implementation Standard:Professionalism

Institutions will hire qualified mathematics faculty, and these faculty will engage in ongoing professional development and service.

Hiring and Mentoring Mathematics Faculty

providing higher
learning must have
qualified faculties—
people who by formal
education or tested
experience know
what students must
learn—who create
the curricular
pathways through
which students gain
the competencies and
skills they need.
North Central
Association of
Colleges and Schools,
The Higher Learning
Commission Handbook of
2005, p. 3-2-10.

One of the most important activities of a mathematics department is determining criteria for hiring new faculty.  When choosing the best-qualified person for a vacancy, mathematics departments in two-year colleges should expect all candidates (full-time and adjunct) to have achieved the following:

Candidates who have participated in teaching internships or in professional activities focusing on college teaching should be given particular consideration.(3)  Understanding how students learn and applying appropriate and varied teaching strategies are important components of a mathematics faculty member’s preparation. 
In addition to general qualifications in mathematics, faculty who will teach specialized courses need specialized preparation in the following areas:

Decreasing enrollments in undergraduate and graduate mathematics programs and competition from higher-paying technical careers present new and continuing challenges in recruiting and hiring qualified mathematics faculty.  Since there is a critical shortage of qualified and capable applicants to fill the growing number of vacancies in mathematics departments, institutions and mathematics departments need to be proactive in the recruitment process to assure that the pool of applicants for both full-time and adjunct positions is sufficient and as diverse as possible.  Diverse faculty contribute to social equity and also serve as vital role models for all students.(4

Once hired, faculty new to the teaching profession should be provided with the orientation and mentoring needed to ease the transition into the institution and into the classroom.  The orientation should also help them become familiar with departmental expectations and the needs of the college’s diverse student population, and help them develop as leaders in their institution and in the professional mathematics community.  “Mentoring is useful and powerful in understanding and advancing organizational culture, providing access to informal and formal networks of communication, and offering professional stimulation to both junior and senior faculty members.”(5) Mentoring has a natural cycle of four parts and must be customized to meet individual needs:(6) (1) assignment and getting acquainted; (2) development of goals, procedures, and expected outcomes; (3) development of mutual confidence and satisfaction as goals are accomplished; and (4) discontinuation of mentoring when it is no longer needed. The mentoring process benefits both the mentor, who is often renewed, and the faculty member being mentored, who can become empowered. An effective mentor is a respected role model, a good listener, and a skilled communicator–flexible and responsive, informed and influential, encouraging and positive, and committed to the mentoring process. 

Implementation recommendation: Two-year colleges will recruit, hire, orient, and mentor a qualified and diverse mathematics faculty.(7)

Actions to support this recommendation

Faculty actions:

Departmental/Institutional actions:

Professional Development and Service

LinksProfessional growth is the personal responsibility of each faculty member with support from the department, the college, and professional organizations.  Professional development activities can be the key to fostering improvement in a mathematics department.  Such activities enhance an instructor’s mastery of content, knowledge of teaching, and self-esteem.  By actively participating in faculty development, faculty can be aware of and implement major developments in content, pedagogy, and the effective use of technology.   Effective teaching is a result of faculty preparation, experience, reflection and continued professional development.  Professional development may include sabbatical leave, as well as travel related to teaching, graduate coursework, group (or department) colloquia, individual study, learning about Internet resources, reading or writing scholarly journals, and virtual interest groups. These activities can result in an invigorated commitment to teaching and innovation, which benefits students, the department, the college, and society as a whole. 

Mathematics departments and institutions should provide regular and comprehensive professional development programs serving both full-time and adjunct faculty.  New full-time and adjunct faculty especially need to be encouraged to participate in departmental activities, discussions of curricular and pedagogical issues, and decisions regarding textbook selection.  Regular department meetings involving full-time and adjunct faculty to discuss implementation of new or different instructional practices and program assessment promote change across the department.  All too often, curricular and pedagogical change is driven by one person in the department.  While one person can be a catalyst for change, the department may revert to an earlier status quo when the person leaves the institution. Lasting change requires the involvement of the entire department.  Effective instructional change also requires involvement and commitment of the college administration supporting the department’s goals and activities to maintain a quality mathematics education for all students.

Professional service
fosters the building
of a community of
lifelong learners,
who value expertise
and encourage
Ana Jiménez,
Project ACCCESS Fellow,
Pima Community College,
Tucson, Arizona,

Faculty can contribute to the profession by presenting workshops on topics such as teaching, learning, and curriculum design.  They may also write articles for journals, reviews, textbooks, textbook supplements, or online materials. Faculty working together can contribute to the ongoing implementation of standards-based mathematics education. Engaging in discussions on curriculum issues, course development, teaching schedules, course delivery modes, and related topics help to establish curricular direction and priorities of the department.  Equally important are discussions, both formal and informal, about teaching strategies to foster a supportive climate for student learning.  Active involvement in campus-wide initiatives and service on college-wide committees build working relationships with colleagues from other departments.  As faculty develop interdisciplinary courses and integrate student learning outcomes across disciplines, the academic community is strengthened, and students have more opportunities to appreciate the applications of mathematics.

Grantsmanship provides another avenue for mathematics faculty to engage in professional service.  Successful grant applications can support research and other professional development activities, and fund the acquisition of needed instructional equipment.  Two-year colleges can encourage faculty to work on grant proposals by awarding reassigned time for writing and providing grant personnel to assist with proposal preparation and grant administration.  Once a grant has been received, the institution can support faculty with grant-funded re-assigned time and summer remuneration.

Participation in professional organizations and societies is critical for professional growth.  Professional organizations offer faculty numerous opportunities for professional development and promote enriching interaction and networking among mathematics educators across the country.  Mathematics organizations also represent the interests of colleagues and the mathematics profession in national and international educational dialogues. At conferences offered by professional organizations, faculty can network with colleagues from other colleges, attend workshops and sessions helpful to their teaching practice, exchange ideas about teaching and learning, and examine the products and services exhibited by publishers and other companies serving the mathematics community.  Funding professional development is always an ongoing personal and institutional challenge.  Institutions can be proactive in providing internal funding, released time for faculty to pursue projects or attend professional meetings, and substitutes for missed classes.

Faculty have a stake in the betterment of the mathematics community at large.  Building ties with faculty in K-12 schools is extremely useful, as is forming partnerships with business and industry.  Team-teaching within colleges and between two-year and four-year institutions can strengthen the mathematical curriculum and teaching, and help foster an understanding of each institution’s culture and environment.(8)  Faculty can also help to build public support for mathematics education and work to diffuse the mathematics anxieties so prevalent in our society.

Implementation recommendation: Mathematics faculty will recognize that their professional responsibilities extend beyond the classroom.  They will engage in professional activities within the department, the college, the mathematics education community, and outside communities to enhance mathematics curricula and instruction.  Mathematics department chairpersons and college administrators will provide faculty with opportunities and support in their professional development efforts.

Actions to support these recommendations

Faculty actions:

Departmental/Institutional actions:

The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Mathematics

LinksThe “scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL)” differs from traditional teaching in that it emphasizes teaching and learning as legitimate areas of scholarship.  Faculty engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning “frame and systematically investigate questions related to student learning–the conditions under which it occurs, what it looks like, how to deepen it and so forth–and do so with an eye not only to improving their own classroom but to advancing practice beyond it.”(11)  SoTL methods take many forms, ranging from simple critical observation of classroom patterns, to the use of classroom data to try out new classroom strategies, to research that compares testing methods to see which method best maximizes learning.  The student is the focus of the teaching activity and the classroom becomes a laboratory in which data are collected and openly shared with peers for the purpose of improving the profession. 

When we
explore professional
opportunities, we
nurture our own
desire to learn and
our excitement in the
learning process…
Thoughtfully setting
personal and
professional priorities
and then regularly
reflecting upon these
priorities is a vital
aspect of continuing
Opportunities for
Professionalism and the
Two-Year College
Mathematics Faculty
2001, p. 48.

Documenting the achievement of mathematics students and the effectiveness of instructional strategies and using those results of that research to make valid improvements in mathematics programs can help to enhance student learning in mathematics. Self-assessment and professional reflection are powerful tools for improving teaching and learning.  Periodic classroom assessments (12) can enable faculty to make critical modifications in instructional attitude, behavior, and content.  The use of videotapes, audio recordings, portfolios, skills check lists, minute papers, and reflective journals can provide the faculty member with information to change positively and affect teaching performance.  Collecting feedback from students regularly, assessing the effects of teaching, and making necessary adjustments are essential activities of the reflective practitioner (13).  To be credible and useful, the results must become public and be shared.

Teaching should be connected to the disciplinary and professional communities in which faculty pursue scholarly work.(14) A key feature of the scholarship of teaching is the commitment of faculty to make their practices public, documenting their pedagogical work, and putting it forward for review.   Teaching should be viewed as a process of ongoing reflection and inquiry that requires collegial exchange and openness.(15)   Mathematics faculty should be proactive in comparing results of the assessment of their students’ learning outcomes with those of similar classes in the department. Strategies to communicate the findings from the scholarship of teaching include the use of the following resources:

Faculty who persistently ask “Why?” even in ordinary circumstances develop a deeper, richer understanding as their research evolves. Applying the Implementation Cycle of Beyond Crossroads to a project such as implementing an innovative teaching method is a way for faculty to engage in the scholarship of teaching.

Implementation recommendations: Mathematics faculty will regularly engage in empirical research on their teaching and share the results with peers for the purpose of improving student learning in mathematics..  Faculty will use reflective self-assessment of their teaching to develop and refine teaching strategies and to assess the impact of those techniques on student learning. 

Actions to support these recommendations

Faculty actions:

Departmental/Institutional actions:

Improving Student Learning through Faculty Evaluation

Faculty evaluation is the process of self-review, as well as the review of faculty work by supervisors, peers, and students.  Faculty evaluation provides insight to improve instruction and grow professionally, in addition to being a basis for personnel decisions.  A clear distinction should be made between assessment of student learning for the purposes of course or program improvement and the evaluation of faculty.

Different types of evaluation, such as peer evaluation, student evaluation, self-evaluation, and administrative evaluation, may contribute to a faculty evaluation process. Each type of evaluation is a valid tool for self-improvement in teaching and learning.  Objective and subjective criteria should be included in the evaluation process.  Informal discussion among and between peers should be encouraged to promote excellence in teaching.  Students should have the opportunity to give feedback to faculty at multiple times throughout a course, with the expectation that faculty will use this information to improve student learning.  An effective faculty evaluation system should include the following components:

Evaluation can be a
positive force when
used to encourage
community college
faculty members to
continue their
professional growth
and thereby improve
the delivery of their
professional services.
University of Hawaii
Community Colleges,
Procedures for
Evaluation of Faculty
April 1990

 The periodic evaluation process for adjunct faculty should be as rigorous as that for full-time faculty.  The tools for evaluation may have to be slightly modified for use with adjunct faculty based on the contractual agreement made with the adjunct faculty regarding teaching, conducting office hours, and assisting students. 

Implementation recommendation: Faculty evaluation will be regular, systemic, and ongoing, based on criteria known to all faculty, with the goal of improving student learning in mathematics.

Actions to support this recommendation

Faculty actions:

Departmental/Institutional actions:


Faculty grow and improve professionally, implement change, and embark on informed instructional decision-making when all essential elements of a system are engaged and operating in concert.  Faculty need to accept and take responsibility for continuing to learn about mathematics and effective mathematics instruction.  Departments and institutions can foster faculty growth and change by providing financial support and the time faculty need to develop and implement effective strategies.  Planning and implementing improvements can be facilitated by using the Beyond Crossroads Implementation Cycle.  Administrators, rather than maintaining the status quo, can encourage reform and support efforts to enhance student learning.(17)   Leadership and material resource management, policy, curriculum, instruction, and assessment must be aligned, with the goal of optimizing student and instructional outcomes.(18


Implementing the Standards


Institutions will hire qualified mathematics faculty, and these faculty will engage in ongoing professional development and service.

 At a standards-based institution, the faculty:

  • view mathematical and pedagogical knowledge as dynamic, requiring lifelong learning.
  • use research to make informed decisions about instructional practices.
  • actively participate in professional development activities and service.
  • document results of their classroom activities and innovations, and communicate the results broadly.
  • engage in ongoing self-reflection of one’s teaching.

At a standards-based institution, the mathematics department and the institution:

  • assure that mathematics faculty participate in the hiring process to find capable and qualified faculty.
  • hold regularly scheduled department meetings to discuss the teaching and learning of mathematics.
  • invite adjunct faculty to participate in department meetings and discussions.
  • encourage and support faculty professional development.
  • provide professional development activities for all faculty as a part of department meetings or at special faculty meetings.
  • provide mentors to faculty who need them and provide orientation for new faculty.
  • solicit faculty input in the design of effective faculty evaluation processes.