Jim Wilson

Department of Mathematics Education

PTR Policy Statement

PTR Statement 2007
James W. Wilson

The past 5 years have been the most difficult and frustrating of my time at Georgia. The key dates in my career at Georgia are given in the resume. The first appointment was in 1968 and tenure was in 1971. I received post-tenure review in 1997 and 2002. The process was distasteful in on those dates and I have even less enthusiasm for it now. Even as I write this statement I am not sure I should pursue another post-tenure review. The time from 2003 to 2005, when the department was in turmoil over the involuntary merger, was extremely difficult. I resigned as graduate coordinator in March 2005, effective August 2005, and made plans to retire at the end of the Fall 2005 semester. The merger and the leadership situation in the merged department was intolerable. The new leadership appointed, in December 2005, asked me to stay on, and resume the role of graduate coordinator for mathematics educaiton, for one semester. It took four semesters to find a new graduate coordinator.

Realistically, it is hard for me to envision the next five years. My limited vision of the 5 year horizon is not a lack of optimism about our mathematics education programs, but rather an appraisal of my role. As of December 31, 2002, I had 40 years service credit in the Georgia retirement system. That means I have reached maximum service credit. Further, the retirement system guidelines show the potential for my retirement benefits are decreasing about 1% each year because of the actuarial tables for joint survivor benefits. Maintaining current levels of retirement benefits means increasing the base. Now I have reached a point with the TRS that the base can no longer be increased; retirement benefits are fixed.

Instruction. I am proud to say I am a teacher. My teaching has an impact on students that extends beyond the class enrollments and beyond the walls of the university. It makes a difference in their further studies and in their own teaching. I believe for the past several years, at least since 1992, I may be the only faculty member in the department who would have enrolled almost every graduate student (Margaret Sloan did not take a class from me) -- and many undergraduates -- in at least one class during a degree program.

Graduate Coordinator. I served three times as Graduate Coordinator for Mathematics Education. The first was from 1969 to 1993 when I was jointly department head and graduate coordinator. The second time was from a three year appointment from 1999 to 2005 -- it was the leadership of the department who could not do the arithmetic on that one and a replacement was not found until August 2005. In December 2005, my August 2005 replacement was promoted to Department Head and she asked me to stay and resume the role of Graduate Coordinator for a semester since no one else knew the process. In late December, Salli Park died, and not only was there no faculty member ready to handle the processes for the graduate coordinator, there was also no staff member who was familiar with the admissions, the records, or the management. I would argue that one of my best accomplishments as a faculty member during this time is that the graduate students and the graduate program in mathematics education were relatively untouched by the upheaval of the merger, the leadership problems, and the transition. We have continued to attract good quality doctoral students and we have done well in the university-wide competitions for Presidential Graduate Fellows Program awards, Graduate School Assistantship awards, Dissertation year Assistantship Awards, and Graduate Recruitment Opportunity awards. If accomplishment in the past five years is a basis for a positive PTR, my role as graduate coordinator. Note that my annual review in one year did not mention my work as graduate coordinator

My assigned workload is for instruction and research. I have not accepted workload for graduate coordination because I did not wish to give up my instruction time (a position that was unacceptable to the Department leadership in 2004-2005 and led to my resignation as graduate coordinator). In the past five years I have taught EMAT 6680 (two or three sections per year), EMAT 4690/6690 (two sections per year), EMAT 6700 (twice),EMAT 4600/6600 (two sections per year except 2004 when I was not allowed to teach summer), and EMAT 7700 (teaching internship). In addition I have directed many enrollments in independent study, led EMAT 6990 and 8990 seminars, supervised Ed. S. applied projects, and directed doctoral dissertations. I am accessible to students and take very seriously my responsibilities for advisement. I have not advised undergraduates since 1999.


Innovation. All of my course materials are on web pages. The Internet Web site at Http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu contains many examples of these innovations. These include use of the Web Page for implementing courses that I teach (e.g. see EMAT 6680 or EMAT 4600/6600), use of the Web Page in directed study making available papers I have written (e.g. see Papers), making available material from my students (e.g. Samples), making available papers from others, implementing projects (e.g. EMAT Multicultural Web site, the EMAT Contextual Teaching and Learning site, the InterMath site, and the Center for Proficiency in Teaching Mathematics site), making available personal information (e.g. this statement, the resume, etc.)

Aside from the Internet access, I have developed the EMAT 6680, EMAT 4690/6690, and EMAT 4700/6700 around extensive use of technology tools for mathematics exploration, learning, and teaching. I have incorporated technology tools into the EMAT 4600/6600 course. The materials for EMAT 6680 and the collections of problems in EMAT 4600/6600 are presented on the Web Site so as to always be available to students and to take advantage of the hypertext format to link to hints, solutions, other problems, or applications.

The Web Site has extended my impact to mathematics education beyond my classes. The site receives extensive contact from throughout the world, in the range of 35,000 "hits" per week. My site is linked by other major sites such as the Math Forum, which adds to the number of contacts received.

The Georgia Research Alliance. In 1991, I was asked by Dean Buccino to take leadership in our input to the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) through collaboration with the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology (GCATT) at Georgia Tech. Over the next three years this led to our UGA team receiving funding from GRA for approximately $2.3M. This was matched with extensive funding from the UGA Foundation, from the UGA operational budget, and from external projects. The Learning and Performance Support Laboratory (LPSL) was organized and I served as its acting director until an Eminent Scholar for Technology Enhanced Learning was appointed in 1995. I wrote the proposal that led to the creation of the Eminent Scholar endowed chair. The GRA activities have benefited the Department of Mathematics Education in many ways. Much of our Ethernet and computer infrastructure was from GRA funds. I continue to be involved in LPSL activities.

Project InterMath. One collaboration with LPSL has been Project InterMath (Http://www.intermath.uga.edu). This National Science Foundation funded project was a collaboration among the Department of Mathematics Education, LPSL, and CEISMC at Georgia Institute of Technology. Open ended explorations in Algebra, Number, Geometry, and Statistics were developed on a Web site with the goal of providing classes for inservice middle school mathematics teachers to improve their mathematics background and to give them in-depth exprience with using technology tools in their own mathematics explorations. The site material was developed at the University of Georgia and the Web Site was developed and maintained at Georgia Tech. The site included instructional materials, mapping to QCC objectives, GPS standards, and NCTM standards, an on-line mathematics dictionary, a library of course syllabi, a discussion page for on-line interaction, and a link to staff assistance for students and instructors.

Development of the web site was a major research and teaching initiative for me since 1998. The site is excellent and is used extensively by facutly and students from all over. The project did not meet the implementation NSF intended (and we promised) but as we adapted to the opportunities in Georgia and elsewhere it has accomplished far more. We found that the support of staff development courses in school systems provided the implementation more readily that college classes. Syllabi for courses were developed and approved by the PSC for staff development with the University of Georgia (through LPSL) providing the monitoring and approval of courses. The Interactive Dictionary was officially adopted by the State Department of Education. LPSL has extended the use of InterMath materials to many other projects, especially those concerned with the implementation of the GPS standards.

What may be rather unique about this NSF funded project is that in continues to be in place and have an impact well after the funding cycle was completed. Three years past the end of the project, InterMath is becoming even more widely used. The web site is now maintained by LPSL. We average over 300 hits per day on the web site. I continue to be involved in the oversight of InterMath.

Contextual Teaching and Learning. The College of Education received a series of grants from the USDOE for a UGa CTL project. The project involved 38 faculty from throughout the university and I was one of the primary participants for three years. The CTL web page gives an overview of the project and its impact on department courses.

Center for Proficiency in Teaching Mathematics. In the fall of 2002 the department was funded for the CPTM. The Center was funded by the National Science Foundation from their Centers for Teaching and Learning program. I am one of the 6 co-PIs to assist Dr. Patricia Wilson, the PI, in developing the project. This is a 5 year collaboration of the University of Georgia and the University of Michigan and each of us have partners with colleges and school systems. In Georgia, our partners are the Board of Regents and the Gwinnett County, Social Circle, and Morgan County schools. The Center agenda includes innovations with teacher education programs, research, and transforming the doctoral program.

Currently, I am involved in something called the Situations Project which is an extension of our CPTM work in conjuction with Penn State faculty and the Mid-Atlantic Consortium. In the Situations project we are developing a framework for describing Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) from the perspective of looking at mathematics teachers classroom practices.

Doctoral Program. I have been the major professor for 49 doctoral students who have finished their doctorate at UGA. (See List). The range of research activities for these doctoral students is quite diverse and underscores that I continue to have involvement and interest in research activities. I continue to have contact with all of my students and encourage them with their efforts at establishing scholarly productivity.
Currently, I have five doctoral advisees "in progress."

Research interests. I am particularly interested in mathematics visualization, visual reasoning in mathematics, and development of understanding in mathematics. In particular, I want to continue to explore the role and impact of technology tools in mathematics for creating and manipulating external representations that lead to students refining and using visual images and visual reasoning.

Other. I was recognized in 2001 with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.