John Goulet, coordinator of WPI's Masters of Mathematics for Educators program, has been named one of the best 300 college professors in the nation by the Princeton Review. A profile of Goulet is included in the new book, The Best 300 Professors (Random House/Princeton Review), which goes on sale today.
"John Goulet's passion for mathematics education, his devotion to helping students succeed and build a solid foundation for their careers at WPI and beyond, and his efforts to help elevate the quality of math instruction at the K-12 level are well known on our campus," said WPI Provost Eric Overström. "I am delighted that his talents and his many accomplishments will now be appreciated at the national level, as well. On behalf of the WPI community, I offer Professor Goulet my sincere congratulations."
The Princeton Review developed the new book in partnership with RateMyProfessors.com. The 300 professors were selected based on qualitative and quantitative data from survey findings and ratings collected by both organizations.
In his profile, Goulet, a member of the WPI faculty since 1993, says his most challenging courses are the introductory classes he teaches to first-year students who "have had poor experiences in math in addition to relatively weak backgrounds." Goulet "will introduce a concept and carefully show the techniques and applications involved, and then he’ll have the students cooperatively try it out to get them actively involved," the book notes. He also tries to relate the course content to the work students will do later in their WPI careers "so as to foster credibility." But most important, Goulet say, “I want them to succeed and will work with them as individuals to achieve this."
Goulet won the WPI Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2007. The citation for that award said Goulet "personifies what it means to be an outstanding teacher through his innovative style, his cheerful attitude towards mathematics, his availability as a trusted mentor, and his dedication to teaching others how to teach." Goulet establishes goals for all of his courses that students must fulfill. "Despite this technique being more labor intensive for the professor," the citation notes, "these goals provide students with a real-world style of learning that promotes true mastery of the material rather than just memorization."
In addition to teaching undergraduates, Goulet directs WPI's Masters of Mathematics for Educators program, a degree program for secondary and junior college mathematics instructors. The program helps teachers deal with the changing demands of mathematics education by bringing group learning, projects, laboratories, and computer-assisted work to their classrooms, and also immerses them in topics that are now increasingly being taught at the secondary level, including discrete math, graph theory, linear algebra, fractals, statistics, and mathematical models.
Goulet also directs the highly popular WPI Invitational Mathematics Meet, which will be held for the 25th straight year this October. Massachusetts high schools (up to 85 schools will compete this year) send four-student teams to WPI where they tackle, as individuals and as teams, interesting and challenging questions based on the secondary mathematics curriculum up to but not including calculus. The top individuals and teams receive scholarships to WPI.