On 16 November 2023, Prof. Corinne Manogue and Prof. Tevian Dray of Oregon State University met with Dr Sinobia Kenny of AIMS to exchange experiences of pedagogical practices within their respective higher education spaces.
While Sinobia shared her knowledge about recruitment of rurally located students to teacher training courses, Corinne and Tevian described their experience with encouraging university-level faculty and tutors to adopt active-engagement strategies in advanced undergraduate mathematics and physics courses.
Corinne and Tevian were particularly interested in how the teacher training division of AIMS built capacity amongst teachers in rural communities once they returned to their schools. Sinobia described the division’s use of alumni as role models in all their courses who serve as lecturers, lecturing or teaching assistants. The residential component of the teacher training courses were paramount for teachers to get to know each other and build professional relationships, organically. She also highlighted the importance of designing course material that teachers could use to upskill other teachers in neighbouring schools. As importantly, the materials were designed not only to deepen mathematical thinking but also to take into account the likelihood of inaccessible ‘experts’ in mathematics in sparsely located areas. This pedagogical approach gives ‘permission’ to historically marginalised teachers to take ownership of their professional learning and do so by working alongside their peers. It promotes an organic diffusion of knowledge where the boundaries of the knower and those who need to know are unclear, creating a ‘safe’ space to learn.
Corinne and Tevian also encounter situations in which the “teacher” (in their case, a university faculty member teaching a course for the first time) may need to develop expertise in the subject area and/or in which a “teacher” may be new to letting the students control more of the learning that is happening in the classroom. They are hoping to adopt the lessons learned in the AIMSSEC model to their own efforts in the US.