NEW!! Join our MAA Connect community

Statement of purpose: Like all communities, our primary goal is to bring people together. As with many affinity areas, the people who design and lead (and cobble together funding for) teaching-focused professional development (TPD) are scattered throughout the country, working in all types of institutions, in all corners of the country, and with a wide variety of motivation and support. This MAA Connect community is a place for these professionals to meet, network, and share resources, skills, beliefs, and support with one another. All are welcome!

Getting started on MAA Connect (

Project Overview

This project serves the national interest to advance implementation and understanding of effective practices in delivering online professional development (PD) focused on teaching and learning to undergraduate mathematics instructors. Face-to-face models for effective PD are expensive and restrict who can participate, because they require travel and other support that is neither universally available to individuals nor sustainable in the long term by institutions. To this end, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-B) will implement and study a new online PD program focused on teaching and learning, tailored to higher education instructors. By developing, using and sharing effective online tools and practices for PD around themes of active learning in the mathematics classroom, we aim to improve mathematics instruction throughout the country. We will also develop a large cadre of people with this skill set, via targeted training and community-building among new and experienced workshop providers. Many of the workshops will share teaching and learning strategies developed under other NSF grants, amplifying their impact. The impetus will be to determine effective use of online tools and practices to deliver professional training around themes of active learning in the mathematics classroom, leading to broad impact on mathematics instruction throughout the country, as well as the development of a large cadre of people with this skill set. In line with this, the project will incorporate explicit efforts to build this capacity by training new workshop providers, including those who have had and continue to have scant opportunities to travel for professional development. Read the full project abstracts for the MAA (here) and for CU-B (here).

Why professional development?

Using the metaphor of a lever (a simple machine used to move an object at one location by applying a smaller force somewhere else), we believe that supporting and nourishing the community of leaders/providers/facilitators of teaching-focused professional development can have large effects downstream in our classroom teaching and even upstream in the change-culture of our departments and institutions.

Teaching-focused professional development can...

  • help instructors improve skills in research-based teaching by providing resources and models, facilitating changes in knowledge and beliefs, and welcoming them into a community of common practice;

  • build leadership capacity to strengthen research-based teaching in coordinated math courses, across programs, and within the larger mathematics community; and

  • strengthen learning, encourage persistence, and broaden participation of students in the downstream classes.

Why online?

  • We can use and strengthen the new skills we have developed (since 2020) in teaching & leading groups online.

  • We can make professional development more affordable, more accessible, and more equitable.

  • We can reduce the environmental footprint of running professional development and disseminating research on teaching and learning.

What to expect

All MAA OPEN Math workshops will create an inclusive classroom environment under the framework offered by the MAA Instructional Practices Guide (2018), a compendium of research-based approaches to teaching. Under this program, it is our hope to host over 40 workshops and directly serve some 1000 mathematics instructors and make a lasting impact on participant knowledge, skills, and uptake of research-based instructional strategies in inclusive undergraduate mathematics instruction. These effects, in turn, will reach into undergraduate mathematics classrooms to benefit many thousands of students across the country for many years, and across all types of institutions. Workshops began in January of 2022 and will run through the summer of 2025.

Project team

  • Doug Ensley (, Shippensburg University (emeritus professor)

  • Stan Yoshinobu (, University of Toronto

  • Sandra Laursen (, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Tim Archie (, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Deirdre Longacher Smeltzer (, MAA Senior Director of Programs

Support for this program

OPEN Math is a collaborative project between the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-B). Support for OPEN Math is provided by the National Science Foundation: MAA Award DUE-2111260 and CU-B Award DUE-2111273.