Changing the Culture 2011

Changing the Culture 2011:
Through Our Teaching


Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011

Location: SFU-Vancouver at Harbour Centre,
515 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada

The conference is free, but space is limited, and therefore registration is required. 

Online registration is now closed. 

The registration deadline: Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Conference Program

8:00 Registration


8:45 Opening Remarks, Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre


9:00 Plenary Talk, As Geometry is lost - What connections are lost? What reasoning is lost? What students are lost? Does it matter?, Walter Whiteley, York University, Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre

Abstract:In a North American curriculum preoccupied with getting to calculus, we witness an erosion of geometric content and practice in high school. What remains is often detached from "making sense of the world", and from reasoning (beyond axiomatic work in University). We see the essential role of geometry in science, engineering, computer graphics and in solving core problems in applications put aside when revising math curriculum. A second feature is that most graduates with mathematics degrees are not aware of these rich connections for geometry.

We will present some samples of: what we know about early childhood geometry.; and then of the critical role of geometry and geometric reasoning in work in multiple fields outside of mathematics. With a perspective from "modern geometry", we note the critical role of transformations, symmetries and invariance in many fields, including mathematics beyond geometry.

With these bookends of school mathematics in mind, we consider some key issues in schools, such as which students are lost when the bridge of geometry is not there to carry them through (caught in endless algebra) and possible connections other subjects. We also consider the loss within these other disciplines. We will present some sample investigations and reasoning which can be supported by a broader more inclusive set of practices and which pays attention to geometric features and reasoning in various contexts. In particular, we illustrate the use of dynamic geometry investigations, hands on investigations and reflections, and making connections to deeper parts of the rest of mathematics and science. Download the presentation file here. Links to sources discussed in the presentation can be found in this document.



10:00 Coffee Break, Room 1400, Segal Centre


10:30 Workshops AB

Workshop A: Changing the Culture of Homework, Jamie Mulholland and Justin Gray, SFU, Room 1900

Abstract: Who do your students think their homework is for? Does attaching credit to homework promote student understanding, or encourage students to find answers by whatever means necessary? Are they focused on calculating the answer, or seeing the big picture? Is their homework grade a true reflection of their own understanding of the material, or does it better reflect the understanding of their "support network"?
In this workshop we will describe our efforts to improve student feedback and to promote good study skills in first and second year mathematics classes.

Workshop B: What is Mathematics-for-Teaching and Why Does it Matter?, Susan Oesterle, Douglas College, Room 1530

Abstract: In this interactive workshop we will review some of the latest research on the nature of specialised mathematics content knowledge for teachers. We will examine particular examples and consider how being aware of MfT can affect not only our approach to the preparation of teachers, but our own mathematics teaching.


12:00 PIMS Award Ceremony: Presentation of the 2011 PIMS Education Prize to Dr. Veselin Jungic, SFU


12:30 Lunch, Room 1400, Segal Centre


13:30 Workshops CD

Workshop C: Using Cognitive Load Theory Principles to Construct Calculus Exam Questions, Djun Kim and Joanne Nakonechny, UBC, Room 1900

Abstract: Cognitive load theory (Paas 1993) provides an approach for writing appropriate level questions so that novices will be more likely to answer the intended question. Cognitive load theory focuses on excluding extraneous information and providing only essential information for the learner. Although this approach is generally used to engender the selection of fundamental component parts and ordering them to scaffold learning new material, we have also found that better test questions can be constructed using these same principles; or so we think. Come and experience the difference, learn the principles for writing questions using cognitive load theory, and find out what we have learned about the process.


Workshop D: Efficient and Effective Teaching of Learning of Mathematics for Students of Science and Engineering with Software for Symbolic Computation, J. F. Ogilvie, CECM, SFU and Universidad de Costa Rica, Room 1530

Abstract: Although computers have enabled a revolution in many academic and other activities, their impact on the teaching and learning of mathematics has been much less potent than is warranted by the pressing demands of users of mathematics in scientific and technical areas. The present and continuing development of pertinent software facilitates a reappraisal of methods of teaching mathematics, with an emphasis on both improving the understanding of concepts and principles and the implementation of mathematical applications. We discuss how software for symbolic computation can play, and has already played, a significant role in the teaching and learning of mathematics not merely in particular topics but according to an holistic appreciation of all the mathematical knowledge and capabilities that a student of science and engineering might require for a prospective technical career during the twenty-first century.


14:30 Panel Discussion, How to convince our students that you cannot learn mathematics by just watching somebody else do it? Veselin Jungic, SFU, Susan Milner, UFV, Fred Harwood, Hugh McRoberts Secondary, Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre


16:00 Coffee Break


16:30 Plenary Talk, Raising the Floor and Lifting the Ceiling: Math for All, Sharon Friesen, University of Calgary/Galileo Network, Room 1900, Fletcher Challenge Theatre.

Abstract: "Math. The bane of my existence for as many years as I can count. I cannot relate it to my life or become interested in what I'm learning. I find it boring and cannot find any way to apply myself toit since I rarely understand it." (high school student)Today, mathematics education faces two major challenges: raising the floor by expanding achievement for all, and lifting the ceiling of achievement to better prepare future leaders in mathematics, as well as in science, engineering, and technology. At first glance, these appear to be mutually exclusive: But are they? Is it possible to design learning that engages the vast majority of students in higher mathematics learning? In this presentation, I will present the findings and discuss the implications from a research study that explored the ways to teach mathematics that both raised the floor and lifted the ceiling.