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Section NExT FAQ

Suggestions for additions to this FAQ should be submitted to Gavin LaRose, glarose(at)umich(dot)edu.

  Background Info:
  1. What is Project NExT?
  2. What is a Section NExT?
  3. How is the MAA tied to Section NExTs?
  4. Why should my Section have a Section NExT?
Starting Section NExTs & Programs:
  1. How do we start a Section NExT?
  2. What does a Section NExT program look like?
  3. What are essential components of a Section NExT?
  4. Do you have any specific suggestions for topics in a Section NExT program?
  5. Where do I find speakers for the NExT program?
  6. When should Section NExTs meet?
  7. How do I set up a listserv, anyway?
  8. How is a Section NExT related to the national one?
  Section and National Fellows:
  1. What are selection criteria for Section NExT Fellows?
  2. How do I locate possible Fellows in my Section?
  3. How do I find national NExT Fellows in my Section?
  4. What role should national NExT Fellows play in a Section NExT?
  5. What application materials should be required of the Section NExT Fellows?
Administering and Continuing Section NExTs:
  1. How should a Section NExT be run?
  2. How frequently should a Section NExT enroll new Fellows?
  3. What resources are required to run a Section NExT?
  4. How are Section NExTs funded?
  5. How do I keep Fellows involved in a Section NExT?

  1. What is Project NExT?
    Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a program for new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences who are interested in improving the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. Faculty who are just beginning or just completing their first year of full-time teaching at the college/university level are invited to apply to become Project NExT Fellows. The project aims to facilitate the professional development and integration into the profession of new mathematicians through a series of workshops and communication during and following the Fellows' fellowship year.
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  2. What is a Section NExT?
    A Section NExT is a program like the national NExT Project, but specifically serving the members of a given MAA Section. Its goals will be similar to those of the national program, supporting the new faculty in the Section in their teaching and integrating into the profession. It may have additional foci, such as establishing links between the different types of institutions in the Section or between graduate students and new faculty in the Section.
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  3. How is the MAA tied to Section NExTs?
    The MAA Strategic Plan in Action encourages the development of Project NExT-like experiences in the various MAA Sections. This is one aspect of the professional development activities of the MAA designed to reach more faculty in their early years in the profession. The MAA supports Section NExTs through the national NExT Project, and provides resources such as listserv mailing lists to the Section NExTs. In addition, through the current ExxonMobil Educational Foundation grant funding the National NExT there are funds for section NExTs available.
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  4. Why should my Section have a Section NExT?
    While the national NExT program enrolls between 60 and 70 Fellows each year, resulting in a cumulative pool that spans almost all of the 29 MAA Sections and a wide variety of institutions, it is not possible for all applicants to be accepted into the program. In recent years there have been close to twice as many applications for the national program as there have been openings, resulting in a large pool of faculty new to the profession who have been unable to participate---which pool is all the larger because there are also interested faculty who for a variety of reasons are unable to apply to the national program while they are eligible. Section-based NExT-like programs can therefore fill this gap by providing activities fostering the professional development and support of new faculty in the MAA sections, and expand on the ideas in the national program to incorporate issues specific to the Section.
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  5. How do we start a Section NExT?
    The nature of starting a Section NExT will depend, in a large part, on the structures in place in the Section. However, there are a number of steps that may be generic to this, including These issues are addressed in somewhat greater detail in other locations in this FAQ.
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  6. What does a Section NExT program look like?
    Successful programs for new NExT fellows often include interactive sessions on topics such as teaching effectively, reform pedagogy, and professional development, especially getting tenure, balancing work and life, and getting grants. Sample program outlines for a couple of existing Section NExTs are available on this Website, and the Project NExT Website has a sample program from the national NExT workshops.
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  7. What are essential components of a Section NExT?
    While the nature of each Section NExT program must necessarily reflect the MAA Section in which it is founded, the general model of the national NExT program has also proved successful at the Section level. This consists of Some MAA Sections have considered merging their Section NExT e-mail lists with those of neighboring Sections' Section NExTs to increase the number of contributors able to add to the discussions there.
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  8. Do you have any specific suggestions for topics in a Section NExT program?
    The most successful programs are those that reflect the Fellows' interests, either because they assisted in the development of the program or because they were in fact consulted when it was put together. Thus, the program should reflect the interests of the Fellows in the section. Specific topics that have been successful in the past include interactive sessions such as
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  9. Where do I find speakers for a NExT program?
    The best source of speakers for a Section NExT program is from within the Section---those people in the Section who are already experts in the topics of interest to the new Fellows. The established mathematicians in the Section are therefore a good resource both as speakers and to help locate those people with expertise in different areas. In addition, it is worth contacting Section NExTs that are geographically near your Section---they are likely to have already recruited people for their program who would be willing to cross the border to help in yours. Finally, there are always some speakers from the national program who are generally willing to come to speak at a Section NExT---see the sample program from the national Project for ideas from that. Joe Gallian is a particularly good candidate.
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  10. When should Section NExTs meet?
    We strongly advocate having the Section NExT Fellows meet for a program before (or, possibly, after) the Section MAA Meeting. This provides an already existing motivation to go to the NExT program, allows them to take advantage of the Section Meeting itself, and assists in their integration into the Section and therefore profession.
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  11. How do I set up a listserv, anyway?
    The MAA is delighted to host Section NExT Listservs e-mail lists. Contact the Gavin LaRose (glarose(at)umich(dot)edu) or the MAA computer administrator for information on how to do this.
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  12. How is a Section NExT related to the national one?
    Most of the Section NExTs include the national NExT fellows in their Sectional programs, providing a direct link between the two. The current ExxonMobil Educational Foundation grant funding the national NExT program includes funding for section NExTs, as well.
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  13. What are selection criteria for Section NExT Fellows?
    The national NExT program requires that its Fellows have the Ph.D. and be beginning or just completing their first year of full-time teaching at the college/university level. These requirements are a good initial model for Section NExTs, but will probably be too restrictive, because there are fewer new faculty in the Section and because some of the possible Section Fellows are those people who missed applying to the national program while they would have been eligible. Current Section NExTs require a range of different criteria, including the following:
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  14. How do I locate possible Fellows in my Section?
    The best way of doing this (that we're aware of) is by contacting the chairs of departments in the section to find the faculty in the Section who are eligible for the program. Then target them specifically. Actually calling (yes, on the phone) department chairs may prove necessary in some cases. It has been suggested that in the most intransigent of cases calling the academic dean of a school would be likely to elicit a response. A Section NExT Web page is, of course, also an excellent idea, as is making sure that the program is publicized through all of the usual Section outlets. While it would be attractive to obtain lists of faculty who applied to the national program but were not admitted, the national program is unable to provide this information for confidentiality reasons.
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  15. How to I find national NExT Fellows in my Section?
    Use the great NExT Fellow Search Form. This allows you to search through existing national NExT fellows by a number of fields, including their Section.
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  16. What role should national NExT Fellows play in a Section NExT?
    There are now National NExT in almost all of the 29 MAA Sections. These new members of the profession are an extremely valuable resource for developing programs and activities that are important to those beginning the profession. Sections are encouraged to invite the national Fellows to participate in planning and organizing NExT activities at the local level, and participate in the programs themselves. National NExT Fellows should be given significant responsibility in the development of Section NExTs, but it is essential for the long-term viability of the Section NExT that it not be run solely by the national NExT Fellows in the Section. Section officers must be behind the program and involved.

    If the selection criteria are met, there is no reason why national NExT Fellows should not also be Sectional Fellows and vice-versa.

    On a broader scale in the Section, NExT Fellows from either the national or Section level programs provide an important resource for the future leadership of the profession. These are energetic, enthusiastic, and accomplished professionals ready to contribute to the affairs of the Section. All Sections are therefore encouraged to invite NExT Fellows within their regions to serve on Section level committees, help plan and organize meeting programs and activities, and to stand for election as Section officers.

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  17. What application materials should be required of Section NExT Fellows?
    We recommend that there be a formal application process for the Section NExT program, because it engenders a greater sense of investment on the part of the Fellows. Any application form should include such information as is useful in the administration of the Section NExT program. Possible inclusions may be a statement about teaching, and/or a letter of support from the Fellow's department chair or dean. The latter provides evidence that when the Fellow returns to try the things they have learned they will be supported in those endeavors. As the department of school may have to provide some travel funds for the Fellow, this letter may also serve to confirm this direct support.
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  18. How should a Section NExT be run?
    One model for the organization of a Section NExT is to appoint a Section NExT Coordinator (similar to the Section Student Chapter Coordinator) who would take responsibility for getting a Section NExT program started and reporting on its progress to the Section officers (and the national NExT program). In some of the sections this has been generalized to a Section NExT committee. Again, please note that national NExT Fellows should not be solely responsible for the administration of the Section NExT program. The investment of the entire Section is necessary for the NExT program to be effective.
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  19. How frequently should a Section NExT enroll new Fellows?
    The national NExT program enrolls new Fellows annually and has three meetings (the summer/winter/summer) at which they meet. Different Section NExTs have introduced variations of this, by enrolling new Fellows every other year, and/or by including Section NExT Fellows in (essentially) all following Section NExT programs. The frequency with which Fellows enter into the Section NExT and the length of their tenure as Fellows should be determined by the number of eligible Fellows in the Section.
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  20. What resources are required to run a Section NExT?
    The primary classes of resources required for the Section NExT include those of
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  21. How are Section NExTs funded?
    The current ExxonMobil Educational Foundation grant funding the national NExT has some startup funds for section NExTs; after that, the current Section NExTs are finding the funding from their Section treasury.
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  22. How do I keep Fellows involved in a Section NExT?
    There isn't any one answer to this, but one very good suggestion is to make part of the Section NExT Fellows' application the requirement that their department fund travel costs to an extra Section meeting---thus "ensuring" that they will be at another meeting after their Fellowship meeting.
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Section NExT FAQ
Last Modified: Thu Aug 16 08:54:56 EDT 2001
Comments to glarose(at)umich(dot)edu