Mathematics (MTH)

The Mathematics Department offers BA and BS degrees in Mathematics and a BS degree in Mathematical Economics (with the Economics Department)

Educational Goal

The Department of Mathematics provides a strong undergraduate program in mathematics that prepares mathematics majors for graduate or professional study, as well as for careers using mathematics in fields such as business, industry, government, education, statistics, computing, and actuarial science.

Goals of the Department

  1. Demonstrate logical reasoning skills through writing mathematical proofs using induction, arguments by contradiction, and other techniques.
  2. Communicate mathematics in the form of a clear and concise oral presentation that includes background material appropriate to the audience. Frequently, such presentations will include illustrative examples and effective visual aids.
  3. Develop effective problem solving skills. Students should be capable of identifying problems, formulating a variety of approaches and carrying them out in a logically sound manner. They should also demonstrate abilities to apply mathematical techniques to solve practical problems in science, engineering, business, or medicine.
  4. Exhibit critical thinking skills as characterized by the understanding and critique of logical arguments.
  5. Develop an appreciation for and facility with abstraction, generality, and conceptualization through obtaining breadth and depth of mathematical knowledge. Students should gain an appreciation of the interconnectedness of different mathematical disciplines.
  6. Demonstrate both independent thinking skills and the ability to collaborate with other students and to use technological resources.

Learning Outcomes for all Mathematics Students (BA, BS, and minor)

  1. Demonstrate both independent thinking skills and the ability to collaborate with other students and technological resources.
  2. Communicate mathematics in the form of a clear and concise oral presentation that includes background material appropriate to the audience. Frequently, such presentations will include illustrative examples and effective visual aids.
  3. Develop effective problem solving skills. Students should be able to clearly understand problems, frame them in the context of the course material, and solve them using the experience and intuition gleaned from previous examples.

Additional Learning Outcomes for Students Earning a BA or BS in Mathematics.

  1. Develop an appreciation for and facility with abstraction, generality, and conceptualization through obtaining breadth and depth of mathematical knowledge. Students should gain an appreciation of the interconnectedness of different mathematical disciplines.
  2. Demonstrate reasoning/thinking skills through the understanding and critique of logical arguments and through writing mathematical proofs using inductive, arguments by contradiction, application of precise definitions and theorems, and other techniques.

Additional Learning Outcomes for Students Earning a BS in Mathematics

  1. Develop effective problem solving skills. Students should be capable of identifying problems, formulating a variety of approaches and carrying them out in a logical sound manner. Students should also demonstrate abilities to apply mathematical techniques to solve practical problems in other disciplines, such as science, engineering, business, or medicine.
  2. Demonstrate research skills through the independent study of a topic or topics, the subsequent preparation of a paper on the research result, and the oral presentation of the result.

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

The Department carries out an annual assessment process that consists of:

I. Given the six (6) stated goals of learning outcomes which the Department has adopted, the following process will be used to assess short term (and in some cases long term) progress of our students in general in goals 1, 3, 4, and 5:

a. Courses to be used to assess goals 1 and 4: MTH 117, 121, 211, 311, 321.
b. Courses to be used to assess goal 3: MTH 113, 205, 251, 253, 256, 306, 353.
c. Courses to be used to assess goal 5: MTH 121, 211, 311, and 321 will be used to assess abstraction, generality, and conceptualization.
d. In the courses listed in I a., b., c. above each teacher in each course in every semester will assess the relevant goal by the following method:

i. Test the students on goal 1 (writing proofs) using two (2) questions during the course;
ii. Test the students on goal 3 (problem solving skills related to applications) using two (2) questions during the course;
iii. Test the students on goal 4 (critique of logical arguments) using two (2) questions during the course;
iv. Test the students on goal 5 (abstraction) using two (2) questions during the course.

e. The Department will provide example questions/problems that may be used in each course for the specified goals in d. above. The teacher of each course will determine the questions/problems that will be used to assess the goals in d. above in their class.
f. Each assessment question is graded on a ten (10) point scale. A grading rubric should be formulated for each of the goals 1, 3, 4, and 5 (four (4) different grading rubrics).
g. Each teacher will submit the “score” on each question for each of the relevant goals associated with the class and for each student in the class electronically to a database which would be accessible to all faculty in the Department. Using this database the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee will determine the departmental “grade” for each of the goals 1, 3, 4, and 5 by averaging all scores on questions/problems for a given goal and will report these departmental grades to the Department.
h. Passing score or how the department will use the scores is still to be determined.
i. The process described in Assessment Procedures I will be used by the Department for self-reflection.

II. Goals 2 and 6 will be addressed by the use of a student Portfolio for each major. The major advisors in the department are responsible for directing their advisees in the development of the Portfolio.

a. The student will keep a written account of oral presentations, use of background material, use of examples, and use of visual aids (goal 2) in the Portfolio. The Department should develop a grading rubric for these items in goal 2.
b. The points of “ability to collaborate with others and to use technological resources” are documented by the student by listing evidences of these
activities in the Portfolio when taking mathematics courses at Wake Forest. (Independent thinking skills are demonstrated through goals 1, 3, 4, and 5.) Goal 6 is graded by the major advisor by checking either “accomplished goal 6″ or “has not accomplished goal 6″ in the Portfolio.