Six Faculty Win VCU Award 

Alumni, Faculty, News

This February, a collaborative journal article written by interdisciplinary faculty at Lee University won the VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Publishing Award. 

The VCU Publishing Awards recognize scholarship and creativity from VCU Publishing’s journal partners. The journal, titled “The Tale of Four Departments: Interdisciplinary Faculty Learning Communities Informing Mathematics Education,” was written by Dr. Bryan Poole, associate professor of psychology; Dr. Caroline Maher-Boulis, professor of mathematics; Dr. John Hearn, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Jason Robinson, associate professor of education; Dr. Patricia McClung, professor of special education and department chair; and Amanda Jones, associate lecturer in mathematics. 

The article recounts the creation of the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) at Lee University with the purpose of improving students’ perceptions and attitudes toward undergraduate mathematics requirements and their experience with these courses. It discusses how the members of the FLC formed and maintained a learning community within their faculty along with their efforts to demonstrate ways in which other institutions could follow suit. 

“The opportunity for collaboration cannot be overestimated,” said McClung. “It enabled the team to observe and improve our candidates’ skills and confidence. For me, this was the best part, that through collaboration we saw ways to do things differently and then make changes for the better.” 

Hearn, Maher-Boulis, Poole, and Robinson have worked together as members of the SUMMIT-P consortium (Synergistic Undergraduate Mathematics via Multi-institutional Interdisciplinary Teaching Partnerships). With the aim of improving mathematics instructions for students in education, chemistry, and the social sciences, they observed classrooms and visited other institutions within the consortium. This was made possible by a grant provided by the NSF (National Science Foundation). The SUMMIT-P members partnered with McClung and Jones to write the article. 

“I am proud of the work of our four departments and the collaboration that took place to allow for better integration of other subjects into our mathematics courses,” said Jones. “The interaction that took place during this project changed my perspective as I teach. I now do not just teach from a mathematical lens, but one of thoughtful integration of other disciplines.  To receive this recognition is rewarding, but I also hope it inspires more of this type of collaboration between different subject areas.” 

The VCU Publishing Awards annually nominates five published articles that are recognized for their scholarship and creativity and demonstrate VCU’s goals to advance research, creative expression, and learning. 

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