PRIMUS: Cultivating a Productive Disposition Toward Mathematics by Engaging in Service-Learning

I have had the good fortune of being recently published in the journal PRIMUS (Problems, Resources, and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies).

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The article stems from my dissertation research and the examples of service-learning that I have shared on this site. I hope it presents a convincing case for the benefits of implementing service-learning in your classes.

If you don’t have access to PRIMUS and would like a free copy of the article, please feel free to email me at jwilkerson<at>regentsaustin<dot>org.


This research explores the positive impact of service-learning on the disposition of students in mathematics. This was a qualitative case study of high school AP Statistics students who completed a service-learning project. Data were gathered from student interviews, reflection journals, and field observations. The framework for the analysis follows the definition of “productive disposition” offered by the National Research Council and that remains foundational to the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice. The major themes that emerge from the data indicate that through service-learning, students see math as sensible, useful, and worthwhile. This supports the potential of service-learning as a pedagogical tool that can be utilized to develop a productive disposition in students; addressing at a practical level how the affective objectives of national policy documents can be achieved.

PRIMUS and Service-Learning

The following announcement was sent out to members of the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences:

The journal  PRIMUS announces a special issue on Service-Learning. Kelly Black, Karl-Dieter Crisman, and Dick Jardine will be guest editing the special issue, inspired by a MAA Contributed Paper Session on this topic at the Joint Meetings in 2011.

Service-Learning connects service to the community with academically-based learning. This is a growing concern on college campuses, sometimes even a mandate, but the mathematical sciences are often seen as a more challenging environment to bring service into the classroom.  In particular, there are only a few resources widely available on this topic specifically geared toward collegiate mathematics.  This PRIMUS special issue aims to provide a significant addition to this literature, with a number of tested ideas in a single volume as a pedagogical resource.

We are calling for papers describing and evaluating innovative and successful service-learning ideas in the mathematical sciences, at all levels and in all topics.  Papers should explicitly address how the service connects to learning the mathematical content of the course, as well as any non-mathematical outcomes.  These may include modeling or statistics courses, but we especially encourage submissions involving non-major courses or non-`applied’ major courses.

Submissions will be welcomed until March 31, 2012.  Papers for this special issue will normally be around 10 pages long, although there is some flexibility.  Supplementary materials, such as appendices and color illustrations, may be published in the online version.

We also extend a call for referees for this special issue, especially those who have some experience with or significant interest in service-learning.

For more information, please contact:

Special Issue Guest Editors:

Karl-Dieter Crisman,  karl.crisman <at> gordon <dot> edu
Kelly Black,  kjblack <at> gmail <dot> com
Dick Jardine,  rjardine <at> keene <dot> edu

PRIMUS-Problems, Resources, Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies-is a refereed journal published by Taylor and Francis.  See  for more information.

PRIMUS Editor-in -Chief

Jo Ellis-Monaghan, jellis-monaghan <at> smcvt <dot> edu