The focus of this project funded by the National Science Foundation is to understand how students and faculty actually use textbooks in undergraduate mathematics courses and to use that understanding to produce textbooks that are more effective in promoting student learning. The major components of the project involve education research, resource development, dissemination, and evaluation.

The education research concentrates on the use of textbooks in calculus, linear algebra, and abstract algebra, which are courses that are taught in every mathematics department. The experimental course sections use highly interactive online textbooks, while the control sections use more traditional textbooks. The online versions work with a tracking system to provide data about the time and duration of individual student attention—suitably anonymized—to the various parts of the textbook at a detailed level.

The resource development includes substantial work to make PreTeXt (formerly MathBook XML) more capable and comprehensive with all the features needed for textbooks and all scholarly work in any discipline. The project’s editorial work involves improving and enhancing several open source textbooks with copy editing, creation and integration of WebWork problems and the development of a repository for Sage cells for sharing and reuse.

The UTMOST Project has been supported by The open source version of this book has received support from the National Science Foundation (Awards #DUE-1020957, #DUE–1625223, and #DUE–1821329).


PROTEUS (PreTeXt-Runestone: Open Textbooks Engaging Undergraduates in STEM) is the continuation of the UTMOST Project and is currently seeking funding from the National Science Foundation. The project seeks to answer the following questions: How do groups of textbook users (students, teachers, authors, and researchers) work together to write interactive questions designed to elicit multiple ways of students’ thinking in classrooms? and How do students and instructors use those interactive textbook questions in their classrooms? The interactive questions are (i) Short Answer free response, (ii) Matching Exercises, and (iii) Parsons Problems. These will be embedded in textbooks for calculus and linear algebra (Active Calculus, Boelkins, 2022; APEX Calculus HTML Edition; Hartman et al, 2022; First Course in Linear Algebra, Beezer, 2022; and Understanding Linear Algebra; Austin, 2022), chosen because they vary in their support for active teaching, use of visualizations, and emphasis on proof. The question-development process involves all stakeholders: students (who have taken the courses), teachers (with experience teaching the courses), authors of the textbooks, and researchers.