This year's Ars legendi Faculty Award in the category of mathematics goes to Prof. Dr. Martin Schlather, holder of the Chair of Applied Stochastics at the University of Mannheim. It is awarded annually by a consortium of societies and associations for outstanding, innovative achievements in mathematics and science teaching at universities.
Prof. Dr. Martin Schlather receives the award for developing concepts of “Service Learning” in mathematics education. Service learning combines learning with community engagement. While the latter is usually understood to mean social engagement, according to Professor Schlather, students of mathematics can provide significant benefit to society primarily by applying their subject knowledge.
Two projects illustrate the approach: As part of the state project HAREBE (HA = Handlungswissen, RE = Reflexion, BE = Berufsorientierung), student teachers support highly gifted students in Mannheim and the surrounding area with additional courses in mathematics. Furthermore, Professor Schlather co-initiated and co-founded the student initiative STADS (Students' Association for Data Analytics and Statistics), which he still accompanies professionally today. STADS is involved in a variety of ways through programming courses for all university members, continuing education courses for members, analysis projects for non-profit companies, and career-oriented events together with companies. In addition, business mathematics students can analyze data of public interest within the curricular framework and concurrently with the first statistics lecture. Professor Schlather is proud of his advanced programming course, which combines research and teaching. “The goal of the course is to create and publish statistical software of relevance. If this is successful, all course participants become co-authors of a scientific publication,” reports Professor Schlather.
The jury of the faculty award, consisting of students and teachers of the subjects concerned and university didactics, praised the practical relevance of the projects: The concept shows how the content learned at the university can be applied in practice, for example by using real data to teach the subject matter and thus highlighting the social relevance of statistical teaching content. It also enables students to gain initial experience in the professional world and make valuable contacts. The practical approach also makes a decisive contribution to students' motivation and learning success.
This is the second time the award has been presented to the University of Mannheim: in 2018, Prof. Dr. Leif Döring received the Ars legendi Faculty Award for the development of individualized mathematics tutorials. “This makes us the only German university to have won the award in the mathematics category twice,” Professor Schlather is pleased to say.
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