Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

CUPM Curriculum Guide Overview


The CUPM Curriculum Guide 2004 (Guide 2004) is the sixth major curriculum report produced by the MAA’s Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM) over the past fifty years. Unlike earlier CUPM reports, this guide addresses the entire undergraduate mathematics curriculum for all students. It focuses less on prescribing what departments should teach and more on setting goals for student understanding and envisioning how departments can achieve these goals. It was intended and has been successfully used to help departments identify changes that need to be made in the structure of the curriculum and to leverage institutional support to implement these changes.

One of the innovative aspects of Guide 2004 is that its recommendations are grounded in a series of workshops that were held with partner disciplines including Biology and Health Science, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Physics, and Statistics. Over the course of 2–3 days, faculty from each of these disciplines hammered out reports identifying the mathematical understandings and abilities their students need for success. These reports, published by the MAA as Curriculum Foundations Project: Voices of the Partner Disciplines, continue to serve an important role within individual institutions as a starting point for constructive dialog between mathematicians and faculty from other departments.

A large section of Guide 2004 discusses serving these partner disciplines: how to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, how to ensure that courses are structured to meet the needs of partner disciplines and to enable and encourage their students to pursue additional mathematics, how to develop student skill in mathematical thinking and communication, the primary goals identified in every workshop.

Another piece of Guide 2004 is devoted to general education or introductory courses in mathematics, courses often taught to those whose experience in mathematics has been less than positive. Again, the emphasis is on identifying the true needs of these students and the structural impediments to meeting those needs.

Finally, Guide 2004 addresses the needs of majors across the mathematical sciences. Here, mathematical thinking and communication skills take on an importance that requires much greater elaboration. This section includes discussion of the role of computational technology, of data analysis, and of opportunities for applying mathematical understanding to the problems of other disciplines.

CUPM Curriculum Guide 2004 is available for download in pdf or purchase at www.maa.org/cupm.

Curriculum Foundations Project: Voices of the Partner Disciplines is available for download in pdf or purchase at www.maa.org/cupm/crafty.

The Illustrative Resources, www.maa.org/cupm/illres_refs.html , is a web-based description of programs and materials that illustrate how Guide 2004 recommendations have been and can be implemented.

Launchings from the CUPM Curriculum Guide is a monthly column of commentary on Guide 2004, www.maa.org/columns/launchings/launchings.html.