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Compendium of CUPM Recommendations - Part I

When NSF Funding Ended, CUPM Gathered Its Recommendations into a Two-volume Compendium


At the end of CUPM's NSF grant, the MAA published in two volumes A Compendium of CUPM Recommendations, subtitled "Studies, Discussions, and Recommendations by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics of the Mathematical Association of America." This Compendium contained selected reports published by CUPM since 1965 arranged by topic in seven sections, each preceded by a preface. What follows below are slight adaptations of the prefaces to each section followed by links to the contents of that section.

Compendium Preface

The Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM) was established as a standing committee of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) in 1959. (A detailed history of CUPM can be found in CUPM, The History of an Idea by W. L. Duren which appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly, 74:1 Part 2 (Jan. 1967) 23-37.) With financial assistance from the National Science Foundation, CUPM in 1960 began to engage in several projects and activities related to improvement in the undergraduate curriculum. These projects often involved the publication of reports, which were widely disseminated throughout the mathematical community and were available from the CUPM Central Office upon request. Since a change in the funding policy of the United States government makes the continuing production and free distribution of such reports extremely unlikely, the MAA has decided to publish in permanent form the most recent versions of many of the CUPM recommendations so that these reports may continue to be readily available to the mathematical community and may conveniently be kept on the reference shelves of mathematics libraries.

This Compendium is published in two volumes, each of which has been divided into sections according to the category of reports contained therein. These CUPM documents were produced by the cooperative efforts of literally several hundred mathematicians in the United States and Canada. The reports are reprinted here in essentially their original form; there are a few editorial comments which serve to update or cross-reference some of the materials. The editorial work for the Compendium was started by William E. Mastrocola during his term as Director of CUPM and completed after his return to Colgate University. He was assisted in the early stages by Andrew Sterrett and Paul Knopp, Executive Directors of CUPM during 1972 and 1973. Preparation of the final manuscript for the printer was the joint work of William E. Mastrocola and Katherine B. Magann. The considerable efforts of these individuals is deserving of special recognition.

Training of Teachers of Mathematics

CUPM's interest in the training of mathematics teachers has pervaded its activities throughout the Committee's existence. The Panel on Teacher Training, one of the original four panels, began its work at a time when mathematics instruction in elementary and secondary schools was undergoing significant changes. Throughout the years since its original report was issued, the Panel's recommendations and ongoing activities have had a profound influence on the education of elementary and secondary school teachers.

The 1961 Recommendations for the Training of Teachers of Mathematics identified five levels of mathematics teachers:

  • I. Teachers of elementary school mathematics—grades K through 6;
  • II. Teachers of the elements of algebra and geometry;
  • III. Teachers of high school mathematics;
  • IV. Teachers of the elements of calculus, linear algebra, probability, etc.;
  • V. Teachers of college mathematics.

To complement the 1961 recommendations, CUPM also published Course Guides for the Training of Teachers of Elementary School Mathematics and Course Guides for the Training of Teachers of Junior High School and High School Mathematics. When it was proposed, the Level I curriculum received widespread attention and approval. It was approved formally by the Mathematical Association of America and it was endorsed by three conferences held by the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It formed a part of the Guidelines for Science and Mathematics in the Preparation Program of Elementary School Teachers, published by NASDTEC-AAAS in 1963.

In the years 1962-66 CUPM made an intensive effort to explain its proposed Level I program to that part of the educational community especially concerned with the mathematics preparation of elementary school teachers. Forty-one conferences were held for this purpose. Participants in these conferences, who came from all fifty states, represented college mathematics departments and education departments, state departments of education, and the school systems. The details of CUPM proposals were discussed and an effort was made to identify the realistic problems of implementation of the recommendations. As a result of these conferences and of other forces for change, there was a marked increase in the level of mathematics training required for the elementary teacher.

Level II and III conferences similar to those held for Level I were deemed unnecessary because the Level II and III guidelines had apparently been accepted by the teaching community through distribution of the recommendations and course guides. One indication of this acceptance has been the publication of numerous textbooks whose prefaces claim adherence to the CUPM guidelines. Throughout the decade of the 1960's, CUPM continued to expend considerable effort on the problems associated with the preparation of teachers. Minor revisions of the original recommendations were produced in 1966, and the course guides for Level I were similarly revised in 1968.

In 1965 CUPM published A General Curriculum in Mathematics for Colleges (GCMC) as a model for a mathematics curriculum in a small college. GCMC became a standard reference in other CUPM documents. The shortage of mathematicians, already severe by the late 1950's, had seriously impaired the ability of many colleges to implement CUPM recommendations, including GCMC. Qualified new faculty members were extremely difficult to obtain, and many established teachers were so overloaded with teaching responsibilities that they could not keep abreast of developments in their field.

By 1965 the time was obviously ripe for CUPM to see what could be done to alleviate this problem. An ad hoc Committee on the Qualifications of College Teachers of Mathematics was appointed to study and report on the proper academic qualifications for teaching the GCMC courses. Simultaneously, CUPM established a Panel on College Teacher Preparation and instructed it to study a number of related topics: existing programs for the preservice and inservice training of college teachers, opportunities for support of college teacher programs by government and foundations, the supervision and training of teaching assistants, supply and demand data, etc.

In 1967 the Qualifications Committee issued its report, Qualifications for a College Faculty in Mathematics. The report identifies four possible components in the formal education of college teachers and describes teaching duties suitable for individuals with academic attainment equivalent to a given component. It also makes suggestions concerning the composition of a small undergraduate department.

Immediately upon publication of the qualifications report, the Panel on College Teacher Preparation fell heir to several tasks. One of these was the responsibility for a series of regional conferences designed to bring together mathematicians and college administrators to discuss some of the issues raised by the report. Another was the task of preparing a detailed description of a graduate program modeled after the "first graduate component" defined in the qualifications report. This latter project was undertaken by the Graduate Task Force, a group with membership drawn from the Panel and from CUPM. Its report, A Beginning Graduate Program in Mathematics for Prospective Teachers of Undergraduates, was issued in 1969.

Meanwhile, other members of the Panel conducted a study on the supervision and training of teaching assistants in mathematics. Their findings were reported in a newsletter published in 1968. The need for a "companion volume" for the qualifications report was established when the Panel on Mathematics in Two-Year Colleges issued its 1969 report A Transfer Curriculum in Mathematics for Two-Year Colleges. CUPM felt it was necessary to describe the qualifications for persons to teach the courses in the Transfer Curriculum, and for this purpose it appointed an ad hoc Committee on Qualifications for a Two-Year College Faculty in Mathematics. This group's recommendations are given in the document Qualifications for Teaching University-Parallel Mathematics Courses in Two-Year Colleges, published in 1969.

Publication of the several reports mentioned in the preceding paragraphs completed CUPM's original plan of providing course guides for each of the five teaching levels defined in 1961. By 1967, however, the pressure for further change was already beginning to be felt. A minor revision (1968) of the Level I course guides contained the statement:

The five years that have elapsed since the preparation of the Course Guides have seen widespread adoption of the ideas of the new elementary school curricula, not only of the work of such experimental or quasi-experimental groups as the School Mathematics Study Group (SMSG) or the University of Illinois Curriculum Study in Mathematics (UICSM), but also of many new commercial textbook series which incorporate such ideas. In addition, there have been attempts to influence the future direction of elementary school mathematics by such groups as the Cambridge Conference. In the near future, the Panel believes, it will be necessary to examine our courses to take account of these developments. We hope in the next couple of years to begin the sort of detailed, intellectual study of current trends in the curriculum and of predictions of the future which will be necessary in order to prepare teachers for the school mathematics of the next twenty years.

During the years 1968-72 the Panel on Teacher Training continued this promised study. It sought to understand current trends and future possibilities through a variety of means:

  • in the spring of 1968 it sponsored a conference, "New Directions in Mathematics," to obtain the views and advice of a large number of mathematicians and educators;
  • it followed the deliberations of the CUPM Panel on Computing;
  • it followed with interest, and contributed to, continuing discussion on pedagogy, the changing attitudes toward experimentation in mathematics education, and the role of mathematics in society today;
  • and, finally, the Panel met with representatives of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, and maintained contact with national curriculum planning groups.

The Panel concluded from this study that a revision of the CUPM recommendations and course guides for Levels I, II, and III was indeed required. Its 1971 report, Recommendations on Course Content for the Training of Teachers of Mathematics, was a result of that decision.

During the early seventies the Panel on College Teacher Preparation continued its interest in the role and preparation of teaching assistants. A 1972 newsletter, "New Methods for Teaching Elementary Courses and for the Orientation of Teaching Assistants," contains a statement by the Panel on teaching experience as part of Ph.D. programs. In 1972 the Panel also issued a booklet entitled Suggestions on the Teaching of College Mathematics whose purpose was to disseminate some ideas about practices that are believed to have contributed to successful teaching of mathematics in colleges and universities.

Two Year Colleges and Basic Mathematics

The Panel on Mathematics in Two-Year Colleges was formed in 1966 following some preliminary study of the need and potential in this area for the kind of activities which CUPM had successfully pursued in other areas. The members of the Panel were chosen from two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and universities so that extensive experience in various phases of education would be available. The Panel initially sponsored a series of meetings at which representatives of a wide spectrum of two-year colleges provided much detailed information about local variations, supplementing the Panel's studies of the national scene. The Panel also participated in several other activities related to the problem, such as meetings of the National Science Foundation Intercommission Panel on Two-Year Colleges, meetings of various organizations of two-year college mathematics teachers, individual visits to institutions, and a wealth of personal contacts.

During this study phase the Panel was divided into subpanels concentrating on three topics: mathematics for general education, mathematics for technical-occupational programs, and mathematics for four-year college transfer programs (in all disciplines). Many two-year college teachers who consulted with the Panel expressed the opinion that guidance was most needed on the first two topics. However, it became increasingly clear as the study progressed that considerable overlap existed in the problems in these three areas and that an initial concentration on the third topic was most natural, both logically and from the viewpoint of CUPM's customary methods of operation. Thus, the Panel decided to concentrate its initial efforts on the construction of a program for university-parallel mathematics courses in two-year colleges. Its report, A Transfer Curriculum in Mathematics for Two-Year Colleges, was issued in 1969.

Concurrent with the decision of the Panel to restrict itself to the university-parallel curriculum, CUPM appointed an ad hoc Committee on Qualifications for a Two-Year College Faculty in Mathematics, whose membership overlapped that of the Panel. The report of this Committee, which appears in this Compendium's section on Training of Teachers, discusses the qualifications of teachers of university-parallel mathematics courses and makes some general remarks concerning two-year college mathematics faculties.

The Transfer Curriculum report is essentially an adaptation of the first part of A General Curriculum in Mathematics for Colleges to the particular circumstances of those students in two-year colleges who intend to transfer to a four-year institution. That report intentionally deferred the consideration of lower-level or non-university-parallel courses as a matter for further study. In 1970 CUPM appointed a Panel on Basic Mathematics to consider the first of these two areas: courses at a level below that of Mathematics A in the Transfer Curriculum. Among the members of this new Panel were persons from the Two-Year College Panel and representatives from developing institutions. The Panel felt that it would be possible to replace many of these courses by a single flexible course which involved a mathematics laboratory and was innovative in its approach. Its recommendations, together with an outline and commentary on the proposed course, appear in the 1971 publication A Course in Basic Mathematics for Colleges.

In 1971 CUPM issued A Basic Library List for Two-Year Colleges. This list was compiled by an ad hoc committee, with the assistance of many teachers from two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and universities.

Having offered suggestions for the improvement of university-parallel and basic mathematics programs, CUPM then turned to the much more complicated area of mathematics for technical-occupational programs in two-year colleges. A reconstituted Panel on Mathematics in Two-Year Colleges laid plans for producing materials designed to improve mathematics instruction for students in these fields. Due to lack of funds, it has not yet been possible to bring these plans to fruition.

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