Editors’ Picks 2022

One of the exciting elements of being the Communications Editor is that I get to connect people with the exciting papers in PRIMUS that I think will impact their professional work for the better. In support of this goal, Taylor & Francis allows us (Matt Boelkins, Kathy Weld, and me) to select papers each year as Editors’ Picks and makes them freely available for download to all without login, without requiring access to the journal.

This blog post is intended to share a little about the categories of Picks and why I am excited about these particular papers. In general, I am excited by papers that push the boundaries of the ways we often think about our work as faculty and challenges us to recommit to being our best. I think it’s also really important that PRIMUS, as the most visible journal that engages mathematics and pedagogy for a readership of mathematicians of all types, supports this broad community; so I’m excited that this collection spans so many of our various subdisciplines and professional responsibilities.

MOST DOWNLOADED: We select a paper that is already highly active in part because this activity is evidence that people are finding this paper useful and compelling. This suggests to me that the subset of people who already had access to this paper, and people who went out of their way to get this paper, believe that this paper needs to be ready by a wider cross-section of our community.

This year, we selected “Coherently Organized Digital Exercises and Expositions” by Christopher J. Sangwin and George Kinnear. This paper articulates principles for course design that attend to modern technology and the specific context of remote learning.

NEW AUTHOR: Writing for PRIMUS is different from the writing almost all of us were trained to do, and it takes serious work to learn this new skill, whether the authors are junior faculty or more seasoned colleagues writing about the classroom for the first time. I am very grateful for the work of the editors and reviewers in supporting authors in this learning, but we also want to celebrate authors whose first contribution to PRIMUS is exemplary.

This year, we selected “Characteristics of Conceptual Assessment Items in Calculus” by Zackery Reed, Michael A. Tallman, Michael Oehrtman, and Marylin P. Carlson. This article analyzes tasks to assess whether or not they require conceptual understanding. Readers will learn both about some interesting Calculus tasks and about some subtleties in how we might define “understanding”.

SPECIAL ISSUES: Guest Editors do a lot of exciting work in recruiting high quality papers focused on topical themes for PRIMUS, and we are often spoiled for choice in terms of excellent special issues when selecting papers from special issues that we would like to amplify. These individual papers are great, but making them freely available also helps draw readers into the special issue in general.

This year, we selected “Emphasizing Model Construction in the Classroom” by Lucy S. Oremland. As this paper points out, many curricula ask students to work with models but not to build them. This paper discusses course structures that support students in the challenging work of model-building and decision-making. This paper is part of the larger Special Issue on Mathematics and the Life Sciences [v32.2-3], edited by Raina Robeva, Timothy D. Comar, and Carrie Diaz Eaton.

EDITORS’ CHOICE: I see this category as our opportunity to assert a stronger editorial perspective into the higher education mathematics discussion. Is there an assumption that is taken as axiomatic that we need to reconsider? Are there voices that are not being heard? Where do we need to be pushed a little further out of our comfort zones?

This year, we selected “Including School Mathematics Teaching Applications in an Undergraduate Abstract Algebra Course” by James A. M. Álvarez, Andrew Kercher, Kyle Turner, Elizabeth G. Arnold, Elizabeth A. Burroughs, and Elizabeth W. Fulton. This paper is part of a larger project called META Math that shows how secondary mathematics is a rich source of applications for the math students are learning in tertiary contexts. This component of the project focuses on algebraic structures such as solving polynomials (perhaps with zero-divisors).

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Similarly to the Editors’ Choice, we select a paper from the Archives, perhaps because it was ahead of its time or has become highly salient again. Is there an idea from which we can learn without having to recreate it from the ground up?

This year, we selected “Five Practices for Supporting Inquiry in Analysis” by Daniel Reinholz. This paper applies the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Discussion to a graduate Analysis course. The 5 Practices are much better known in elementary and secondary education than tertiary, and this paper is a bridge that will help faculty learn from the expertise of our colleagues who work with students earlier in their educational journeys.

Please download, read, and discuss these papers, and please help us share these pieces of high quality writing widely! [And as always, MAA members can access all of PRIMUS, and we certainly hope that readers will encourage their institutions to subscribe to and support the journal.]

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