Call for Papers: Special Issue on developing the teaching capacity of early-career mathematics instructors

The journal PRIMUS (Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies) announces a special issue on developing the teaching capacity of early-career mathematics instructors. Jessica Deshler (West Virginia University) and Sarah Mayes-Tang (University of Toronto) will guest edit the special issue.

An often-told anecdote among mathematicians is that of being handed a textbook and a class schedule, many times as they were just beginning graduate school, with the assumption that their years as a student would provide sufficient guidance in how to teach. Indeed, novice instructors usually teach in the way that they were taught. However, these ways of teaching are often not consistent with learner-centered teaching and active learning strategies that best support student understanding. 

The need for intentional training and professional development in learner-centered teaching is being increasingly recognized by Mathematics Departments and by Universities at-large. Scholars around the globe have drawn on the more established field of mathematics teaching professional development in the K-12 system and have developed a variety of support structures and processes to improve mathematics teaching and learning at the undergraduate level. Faculty members at all ranks can participate in professional development, but early experiences are critical for lasting effect and this has resulted in a focus on novice instructors and graduate students in recent years. We also note an undeniable boost in attention to the need for professional development during the past year as institutions responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many instructors pivoted to remote teaching with little time to prepare, followed by ongoing changes to higher education, both of which have caused many of us to re-evaluate our teaching and assessment methods.  

As professional development activities have increased in recent decades, and professional development curricula have been developed, opportunities for research around these structures have followed. We seek submissions to this special issue that describe programs from departments that take team-based and individualized approaches to professional development, and that include early-career instructors in a variety of roles, including adjunct (part-time) and graduate student instructors. 

We also note that despite increased recognition of the importance of professional development, many of our departments face significant financial constraints, time limitations, and an enduring lack of buy-in from some around the need and potential for professional development. Therefore, we also seek to hear from departments who have found innovative ways to support instructors amid these challenges. 

We are excited to see how others are creating, adapting and studying their professional development activities, and finding solutions to obstacles that may help others facing similar issues.  Some of the questions we hope contributors will address include: Have you developed a unique approach to professional development for teaching? What methods of assessment do you use to know you are successful?   Did you adapt existing professional development activities to address online teaching and learning, or develop a completely different approach? Have your professional development activities changed focus given the emotional toll of teaching remotely or the ongoing pandemic? What activities have you incorporated into your program that you didn’t have previously? 

Based on involvement of the guest editors at two events (a contributed paper session at Mathfest 2019 and a workshop at BIRS 2019), and the fact that it has been over a decade since a PRIMUS issue focused entirely on teaching professional development, this special issue seeks to showcase current professional development efforts within mathematics departments that aim to develop the teaching capacity of early-career instructors. We especially encourage submissions from programs in environments with limited resources and/or other obstacles that must be addressed for the programs to be successful and focus on collaboration in teaching. Authors should include a description of the environment and delivery model, the philosophy underlying the program, and evidence of success. Evidence of success should be described according to the framework selected and may be in a variety forms, including but not limited to compelling observational narratives or statistical studies.  

Submissions are due September 1, 2021

Papers submitted to this Special Issue must address the theme of Developing the Teaching Capacity of Early-Career Math Instructors and meet the journal’s standards of excellence. All papers will go through the usual journal referee process and only those recommended by the referees and selected by the guest editors may be published in the Special Issue. PRIMUS papers are typically 10-15 pages but may be longer if warranted. Supplementary materials, such as appendices and color illustrations, may be published in the online version. All papers must be submitted through the online submission system. The main journal website at has a link for authors and submissions on the left hand side, and the direct link to the online submission system is: During the upload process, please indicate that the paper is to be considered for this Special Issue. 

We also extend a call for referees for this Special Issue, especially those who have some experience with or significant interest in professional development or support of novice instructors.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Deshler,
Sarah Mayes-Tang, 

Leave a Reply