Published: Feb. 19, 2020 By

Professor Silva Chang Silva Chang has recently been given the Boulder Faculty Assembly (BFA) Excellence Award in Leadership and Service. According to the BFA, this Excellence Award is given for  “professional activities other than teaching and research that are performed by faculty members as part of their University responsibilities or as community outreach.” Ms. Chang is very well deserving of this award due to her work in creating a math placement process for Precalculus and Calculus 1 students and her leadership within the Colorado Math Circle and the AMC 8 contest. 

The new CU Math Placement Process is an achievement that has been sorting students into their most qualified math class for a couple of years now, and its importance for the College of Engineering and STEM degrees in general is pivotal: “An appropriate first college math course will create the foundation that students need for their upper level courses. An inappropriate course may overwhelm students and cause them to rethink their choice of major.” In order to give students the best chance at completing their degree, professor Chang created a new placement test by writing over 200 questions based on the Assessment Test that APPM students take the first week of class. A new placement algorithm that takes data from high school GPA and standardized test scores, along with the results of the exam, gives the most apt assessment of the student’s math background. “Based on results since fall 2018, the new process is working well.” Ms. Chang continues to oversee the math placement for all incoming CU students.

Ms. Chang’s outreach in the community is just as noteworthy. About 14 years ago, she created the Colorado Math Circle for students who are interested in math. Its purpose: “to bring together high school and middle school students from around the state for math talks and group problem solving sessions.” The opportunities the Math Circle creates are numerous, including a math team trained for national competitions. More recently, professor Chang plays a role as the AMC 8 contest’s co-Editor-in-Chief. This competition given to over 100,000 middle school students demonstrates Ms. Chang’s passion for mathematics in the hopes of the students developing an interest in math as well. All of Ms. Chang’s “outreach activities have the common goal of developing an appreciation and enthusiasm for mathematics among young students.” Her wonderful contributions to the community fills a hole as well as adds great satisfaction to her life and the lives of others. Her positive impact cannot be measured.

Along with these amazing achievements, professor Chang also teaches applied math courses, oversees core mastery tests, and analyzes data on student performance. This last job entails examining APPM course grades from previous years with the goal of improving student achievement. Her analysis in data incorporates student performance after they leave applied math, including graduation rates, and their performance in other engineering courses. All of Ms. Chang’s work in data analysis aims at ensuring students understand and complete their math courses and are prepared for upper division classes. Professor Chang has gone above and beyond and truly deserves the “honor to be recognized by CU faculty for [her] work.” Congratulations Silva Chang! We at the department cannot wait to see what you do next.