SCL 2017: Cultivating Mathematical Affections through Service-Learning

This week I am giving a presentation at the 2017 Society for Classical Learning (SCL) conference on “Cultivating Mathematical Affections through Service-Learning.” The talk is on integrating service-learning projects into mathematics curriculum, specifically with the goal of impacting students on an affective level. Since this is my dissertation topic, I’ve presented on it numerous times before – and now that my dissertation is done (!), I hope to finally be able to devote more time to building out resources on this site. In addition to the resources that you will find below, feel free to check out some of the prior posts on service learning:


This session will examine the benefits of service-learning projects in mathematics. Service-learning projects engage students in integrating their conceptual understanding of math with the practical functioning of their local community. Ultimately students gain deeper content knowledge and a deeper appreciation for the role math plays in society.


You can click the image below to find the PowerPoint that accompanied my presentation.

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For many of the service-learning projects that my students have completed I am indebted to the willing partnership of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Here is some introductory information on this great ministry:

How a Food Truck, Faith and Community Welcomes the Homeless, from the Huffington Post.

“Teaser” for Inferno Films latest feature documentary. from layton blaylock on Vimeo.


The following are the foundational questions that you as an instructor should consider and reflect upon prior to implementing a service-learning project. This list is not meant to be chronological though some aspects will naturally precede others. Start by considering the course learning objectives and your method of assessing those objectives and then go from there.

1.What are the major learning objectives/big ideas/enduring understandings for your course?

2. What are real-world situations where students can apply the concepts studied in your course?

3. List some potential community partners along with some basic descriptors that may impact how your students work with each partner (ex: What is the size of the organization? What issues does the organization address? Is the organization non-profit, governmental, religiously affiliated? Etc.) In lieu of a partner organization you can also consider a general community need for students to address. List some general descriptors of the project involved in addressing this community need.

4. Look for potential matches between organizations on your list from question 3 and your responses to questions 1 and 2. If there are multiple potential matches then consider the pros/cons of each and list them. Be sure to recognize how your matching affects the organization of the project (large scale as a class v. small scale as groups), which in turn may affect your response to question 5 below.

5. Once you have begun narrowing potential community partners that offer opportunities for students to interact with course content, consider how will you assess students? What will be the final product? What expectations will you have for students throughout the project and how will you communicate that to the students?

6. How will students be organized to meet the objectives that they will be assessed on? Will students work as individuals, teams, as a whole class?

7. How will students be equipped to complete the project successfully? What will they have gained from the course up to the point of assigning the project that will aid them? What additional tools/skills/knowledge will students need as the project proceeds?

8. What will be the timeframe for the project? How will students be held accountable to the timeframe? At what points will students receive feedback on their progress?

9. Why should students care about the project? What will you do as an instructor to get student buy-in on the project?

10. How will students reflect throughout the project? What opportunities will you provide for students to pause and consider the work they have done?


From my AP Statistics Project:

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From my Geometry project:

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Math for Goodness Sake

The following is from a presentation I gave at the 2014 Society for Classical Learning Conference. The title of my talk was “Math for Goodness Sake.” Here is the abstract:

The mission of Regents School of Austin (and undoubtedly any classical Christian education) is to equip students to know, love and practice that which is true, good and beautiful. How does the teaching of mathematics fit into this mission? There are numerous resources that address the beauty and truth of mathematics, but how do we instill in students an appreciation for the inherent goodness of math (especially since many students experience mathematics as confusing, stressful and generally contrary to anything considered good)?

Mathematics is at its core a good and virtuous activity and its enjoyment is not reserved for the “intellectual elite.” This talk will examine how the goodness of mathematics is actually rooted in a proper understanding of the ordered nature of God. When viewed through this lens we can see mathematics as a missional activity that increases our versatility as worshipers of Christ. Several practical methods for developing what I term “mathematical affections” will be presented for consideration and classroom use.

You can find a full list of presenters and the topics discussed in the 2014 SCL Conference Program. To get a further idea of some of the great discussion the SCL has going on the teaching of mathematics specifically I highly recommend checking out the SCL Journal, Fall 2013 – Moving Beyond Mechanics: Teaching Math Classically.

Below you will find my PowerPoint presentation (simply click the image for the link) and the written outline of my talk. I believe SCL will be recording presentations, so hopefully I will eventually be able to post (or link to) the audio as well.

UPDATE (8/15/14): Here is a link to the audio. You may need to become a member of the Society for Classical Learning website in order to access the linked audio, though I am not sure. 

Math for Goodness Sake Outline.

math for goodness sake

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