Department of Mathematics and Science Education

PTR Policy Statement

PTR Statement 2012
James W. Wilson

         The past 10 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 to the University of Georgia faculty was in 1968 and tenure was granted in 1971. I received post-tenure review in 1997, 2002, and 2007. The  PTR process was distasteful 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 THIS 2012 post-tenure review.  The committee apparently does not have the obvious option to recommend retirement.   I can understand, however, that the distasteful nature of this process has led many of my former colleagues to opt for retirement rather than go through this process.   

         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.  When the leadership change occured in December 2005, I was asked to stay on and resume the role as graduate coordinator.  (See below)

         I was first appointed to Graduate Faculty in 1969 and had been reappointed several times prior to 2005.   My application for reappointment to the Graduate Faculty in 2005 received a split vote in the department.  I still find that offensive.  I have served as major professor for 54 doctoral graduates.    Six of those have been in the past 5 years.  

         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, 2007, 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. More likely than any other faculty member, almost every graduate student in our programs since 1992 has taken at least one course from me. 

        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 continued to attract good quality doctoral students and we did 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. While I discuss the whole range of time as Graduate Coordinator, note that the last term extends into the current 5 year review.  It took four semesters to find a new graduate coordinator and a year of transition for the new person to be ready  --  to May 2008.   

        My assigned workload is for instruction and research. I did not accept 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 sections per year), EMAT 4690/6690 (two sections per year),  EMAT 4600/6600 (two sections per year), 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 regret that graduate advisement, especially at the master's level, has been devalued by the department.    I have not advised undergraduates since 1999.

        Innovation. All of my course materials are on web pages. The pages are revised each time I teach a course. These changes involve new material, new organization of material, new technology, and the incorporation of web resources. The Internet Web site at Http:// 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, the Situations Project site, and the Center for Proficiency in Teaching Mathematics site), making available personal information (e.g. this statement, the resume, etc.), and preparing a base for on-line instruction.

        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 materials from the EMAT 4600/6600 problem set and from Project InterMath are used by instructors at other institutions.

       The Web Site has extended my impact to mathematics education beyond my classes. The site receives extensive contact from throughout the world. 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.    In particular,  Project InterMath remains a joint LPSL-EMAT activity.

       Project InterMath. One collaboration with LPSL has been Project InterMath (Http:// 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. Eight years past the end of the project, InterMath is still 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 was a 5 year collaboration of the University of Georgia and the University of Michigan and each of us had partners with colleges and school systems. In Georgia, our partners were the Board of Regents and the Gwinnett County, Social Circle, and Morgan County schools. The Center agenda included innovations with teacher education programs, research, and transforming the doctoral program.   The work of CPTM has continued with a series of no-cost extensions from NSF. We are currently in a terminal year with an effort to bring closure to several phases of the project.

       Situations Project.   The Situations Project is an extension of our CPTM work in conjuction with Pennsylvania 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.  We are in a terminal year with no-cost extensions from NSF.    We have held three national conferences to present our work to mathematicians, mathematics educators, and professional development leaders.  Currently we are working on completion of two books and the stabilization of a very extensive web site.

        Doctoral Program. I have been the major professor for 54 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 (except the 3 who are deceased) and encourage them with their efforts to establish and continue scholarly productivity.    At least  8  former students have retired. 

        I will bore the reader with an interesting "legacy." (Well, . . ., it is interesting for me.) My youngest granddaughter is a Freshman in 2012 at Central Florida University. One of her advisors (CFU still values faculty advisement of students) is a former advisee of one of my early doctoral students. Is there something that might be called a "grandadvisor" or "great-grandadvisor?"  If so, I can claim to be the great-grandadvisor of my granddaughter!!! Oh well, back to the task at hand . . .

        Currently, I have 12 doctoral advisees "in progress."  Three of them, long term ABD, are probably not going to finish.  Of the others,  3 have been admitted to candidacy or are currently completing that process, 2 will take the comprehensive examinations next spring, and  4 are in their first year of doctoral study and have not yet appointed an advisory committee or selected a major professor.

        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.

       Graduate Faculty Reappointment.  Although I think these points have already been covered, the following comments pertain to my involvement in graduate education over the past 5 years.

       First in this 5 years, I have served as the major professor for 6 individuals who have completed the Doctor of Philosophy degree in our department.    I serve as the major professor for 7 doctoral current students who have named an advisory committee, I serve as the interim doctoral advisor of 5 students who have not yet named an advisory committee,  and I have served (or currently serve) on the advisory committee for 11 students for whom I am not the major professor.

       Second, part of this 5 years included a time as Graduate Coordinator.

           Third, all of my classes taught in this 5 years have been graduate level. 

        Fourth, I have continued to be active in funded research that has provided support for many students in our program.

         Fifth, I believe my presence in the department and my ongoing interactions with graduate students, not just my advisees, is a positive factor in the scholarly development of our students.

       Other. I was recognized in 2001 with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  In 2008,  I received the Gladys M. Thomason Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics.