How to be a good math teacher at a liberal art college?

I am thinking of taking up a position at a liberal art college. I have taught mathematics at large public universities but I have no idea what is it like to work at a liberal art colleges. So what are things I should know about teaching mathematics at a liberal art college? Can you recommend some resources to read so I may be better prepared for this new job?

• I'm skeptical that an answer that would be good for Guilford would be good for Carleton. Apr 3 at 19:27
• Do you have an offer to teach at a specific place? Or is it that you imagine you'd like such a position? As @AlexanderWoo comments, "liberal art[s] college" is not at all a tight identifier, in any case. Can you clarify? Apr 3 at 19:52
• @paulgarrett Yes, I do have an offer from a liberal art college. Apr 6 at 15:39

Let me reply as someone who left a university in favor of a Liberal Arts College (LAC). Although @AlexanderWoo's point is valid, my experience supports the following:

• At a LAC, the walls between the departmental silos are lower, enabling relatively easy cross-disciplanary collaborations.

• At a LAC with a strong faculty-governance tradition, you can play an all-college role that is almost impossible to achieve at a university.

• If you are passionate about teaching, it is uplifting to work at an institution that prioritizes and rewards teaching.

• I've found the engagement with students much more direct: There is less separation between students and faculty.

• The best students at a LAC are comparable to the best students at a university. So one can still research-collaborate with the top students.

• The scholarship that counts for tenure is more varied than at a university. For example, writing a textbook could gain you tenure at a LAC, but rarely at a university.

To counter-balance the above with two negative points:

• It rarely possible to remain active at the research-frontier of a popular math subdiscipline. You might need to adjust your research agenda toward less-traveled paths, and less-dependent on graduate students.

• The Univ$$\to$$LAC transition is nearly irreversible. It would not be easy to move from a LAC to a university later in your career.

• The vibe I get from you is that a liberal arts college is a nice place, right? Apr 5 at 10:05
• Yes. But it depends on your inclinations: how much you value contributing on the frontier of research, compared to how much you value teaching. Apr 5 at 12:50
• Thanks for the answer! Have you changed how you teach math in any way since moving to LAC? Apr 6 at 16:02
• @ablmf: Hmm. I don't think I changed how I teach, except that of course teaching graduate course is different from teaching undergraduate courses. But I taught/teach undergraduate courses more-or-less the same at the university as at the college. Apr 6 at 16:06