Navigation Bar: Campus Tour, Maps, Boston, Campus News, NU Home
Northeastern University logo/Center for Work and Learning PhotoCenter for Work and Learning logo
Home
• POE Community
Advisory Board
Faculty Research Fellows
Faculty Learning Community
• Programs and Events
• Current Projects and Research
• POE Resources
• About Us
• Work and Learning Home
POE Community >
Faculty Research Fellow

TOM SHERMAN

Tom Sherman
Associate Professor
Mathematics
College of Arts and Sciences
567 Lake Hall
617-373-2785

WORKING WITH STUDENTS ON CO-OP

Tom Sherman’s project will investigate and establish ways in which math department faculty can regularly work with math majors while on coop to facilitate a more mathematical understanding of coop jobs and a more experience-based understanding of mathematics. All too often math majors at Northeastern have failed to recognize and learn from math on their coop jobs. This points to a paradox: On one hand, mathematics is a tremendously powerful, general purpose subject. It is the foundation for most of modern science and technology and has new-found uses in many fields where it was not the traditional base. On the other hand, students have great difficulty seeing its uses. Thus, there is a disconnect between mathematics-as we-teach-it, and mathematics-as-a-working-tool. At Northeastern it seems that we ought to be able to use coop and other work experiences to bridge this gap.

This study will address a number of questions, including both practical and pedagogical issues.

Practical:

  • What is the best structure for bridging this gap (e.g., a formal course, informal telephone or e-mail communication between students and faculty)?
  • What kind of evaluative process should be put in place to determine if this connection is working?
  • What are everyone’s (e.g., student, faculty, employer) expectations of everyone else?
  • Student issues: Do they get academic credit? Are they more employable? Does this cut into their time after work or on the job? Who gets credit for their ideas?
  • Faculty issues: What are the responsibilities and time obligations? What are the teaching issues here? What are the non-disclosure restrictions? How am I compensated for my time?
  • Employer issues: What are the security, non-disclosure, and proprietary issues? Will this take student time away from work? Will it contribute to faculty expertise and training?
  • What faculty and student preparation needs to take place (including, curriculum changes)?

Pedagogical

  • What can faculty do to help students learn from the coop experience?
  • Why is it so hard to move from the abstract to the concrete?
  • How can we help bridge the gap between differences in the school and work environments? (especially differences in problem solving, attention to task, expectations of initiative and originality, and teamwork)
  • What effect does social context have on student learning?
NU Home Campus News Campus Tour Maps Boston