by KASSIDY JACKSON
The selection committee for the North Central Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has selected Dr. Barry Peratt as its winner for the 2018 Distinguished Teaching of University Mathematics Award. Peratt was announced as the winner at its spring meeting, which was held at Minnesota State Mankato April 20-21, 2018.
Peratt has been a tenure track faculty member at Winona State University (WSU) since 1996 and has been responsible for teaching a wide variety of undergraduate mathematics courses. He has been heavily involved in curriculum reform of pre-calculus, calculus, differential equations, and various service courses.
Peratt’s teaching style can be described in terms of interaction and motivation. Regarding the interactive element, even when he teaches a class more than once, it is always very unique because the composition of each class is unique. Student interest, mathematical background, and even the mixture of personalities determine how he approaches them with the material. Regarding the motivational element, he makes it intentional that he never introduces topics for which he cannot provide students with a solid motivation. He believes that mathematics, even with more abstract subjects like advanced calculus, grew out of a need and were motivated by very real challenges that humans were attempting to negotiate. This is a constantly present element in his teaching.
Students comment on his teaching evaluations that he has great projects in his courses. They state that it greatly impacts their learning of the material. He utilizes projects in all of his courses, from the very applied projects in his classes full of engineers to the very abstract and theoretical students in his classes such as advanced calculus, to the more pedagogically oriented ones in modern geometry.
“Peratt is the Cadillac of mathematics professors,” said Nicole Williams, professor and chair of the math department. “He gets students through the material on a smooth ride where they learn the material, understand conceptually the content, and build expertise in procedural, application, and modeling skills.”
Outside the classroom, Peratt has contributed to the field of mathematics teaching by collaborating on writing curriculum modular units for the Monterey Institute for Technology in Education, publishing articles on topology, presenting at conferences, and working with students on undergraduate research projects.
He works diligently to ensure that WSU students are successful in their careers. Along with his outstanding understanding of students’ struggles, Peratt promotes an excellent learning environment and works diligently to ensure that WSU students are successful in their careers.
“As I look back over my life, I can see clearly how many people have played a role in forming me as a teacher, from my parents to former teachers, mentors, students, and colleagues. I am deeply indebted to each of them,” said Peratt. “It is only on their behalf, recognizing that this award properly belongs to all of them, that I feel I can sincerely receive and joyfully embrace this honor.”
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