Mathematics majors have the opportunity to complete an independent research project.
Each year, a few Mathematicians and Mathematics education majors work with a professor to prepare a presentation. Currently those presentations are most commonly given at the BSU Student Achievement Conference, the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics spring conference or the spring Pi Mu Epsilon conference.
These projects help students develop a stronger grasp of challenging concepts and their applications, as well as skills like critical analysis, writing and presenting.
- Students will gain experience working independently on a problem that is beyond the normal scope of their coursework.
- Students will present mathematical or pedagogical work to a general audience.
General Process and Expectations
The student and professor will consult on the topic or application to be researched. Students may locate their own topic or be assigned a topic by a professor.
- Understand the Problem. Become familiar with examples, similar problems and propositions related to the problem.
- Background Investigation. Who first considered this problem? Are there interesting biographies of mathematicians who have worked on this problem? Are there open questions related to this problem.
- Research. Next, the student should engage in independent research on the problem. Locate, read and understand the literature related to the problem. Be prepared to cite sources. If there is something the student is unable to figure out, the instructor will be willing and prepared to provide direction to the student.
- The student, in consultation with their instructor, shall select and organize the items from their research that they wish to present. Consider carefully the nature of the audience, and select material and modes of presentation appropriate to an audience of undergraduate mathematics majors.
- Methods of presentation may include overheads, Power Point or calculator programs. Visual aids such as posters and three-dimensional objects should be used when appropriate.
- Students should work to keep their audience engaged in the topic. Seek a balance between examples and theory. After a difficult point is presented, pull the audience back in with an interesting aspect of the problem or with an historical vignette.
- Practice the presentation with the instructor. Other students and professors may be asked to give informal input at this same time.
- Present in a public forum. Faculty and other students will be in attendance.