Changing the Culture 2006: Teaching Mathematics for Understanding

  • Start Date: 04/21/2006
  • End Date: 04/22/2006

Bernice Kastner (Prof. Emerita, Towson University, SFU)
Peter Liljedahl (SFU)
Melania Alvarez (PIMS)
Kieran Egan (SFU)
Rose Albiston (Terry Fox Secondary)
Pamela Hagen (Westwood Elementary/UBC)
Jonathan Jedwab (SFU)
Shabnam Kavousian (Langara/SFU)


Simon Fraser University


8:30 Registration


9:15 Opening Remarks Fletcher Challenge Theatre


9:30 Let's Confuse Them With the Facts!
Bernice Kastner, Prof. Emerita, Towson University, SFU
Avoiding the hard ideas doesn't prevent confusion, but contributes to it. I will show why traditional curriculum approaches in mathematics inevitably fail to produce widespread understanding. We see this in many of our entering students who have the skills to satisfy mathematics entry requirements, but lack the understanding necessary for success in University courses involving quantitative reasoning.


10:30 Coffee Break
Segal Centre


11:00 Workshops
Workshop 1, Peter Liljedahl, SFU: Numeracy Tasks: Putting Mathematical Understanding to the Test.
Abstract: Numeracy is the willingness and ability to apply and communicate mathematical knowledge and procedures in novel and meaningful problem solving situations.
Given this definition what are the qualities of a good numeracy task? In this workshop we will first explore a number of numeracy tasks designed for use in the K-12 mathematics curriculum. We will then critically examine these same numeracy tasks so that a criteria for what makes a good numeracy task may emerge. Finally, we will use this criteria to help us in the design of new numeracy tasks.
Workshop 2, Melania Alvarez Adem, PIMS: Numeracy at Post-Secondary Level.
Abstract: The workshop will discuss students' preparation to take mathematics courses at the university level, and methods to asses it. Melania Alvarez will introduce the topic by reporting on the assessment she was involved with at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Quantitative Assessment Project (QAP) was developed to help faculty to enhance the quantitative component of General Education at UW-Madison. The QAP began in 1990 as the University's response to a Regent mandate to assess quantitative abilities of students in all areas of study at the university, and to serve as a tool for the creation of quantitative requirement courses as well as to assess their effectiveness. The heart of the QAP approach is a collaborative effort with one or more faculty members in some particular course, designed to identify quantitative abilities which will be assumed by the course, to assess the extent to which students have these abilities at the start of the course, and to provide immediately helpful feedback to both students and faculty on the result. From these individual collaborations, the QAP notes similarities in course expectations, in testing and feedback problems, in attempts to modify courses, and offers this experience to faculty who want to work to enhance their courses.


13:00 Lunch
Segal Centre


14:00 Engaging Students' Imaginations in Mathematics
Kieran Egan, SFU
It is generally agreed that engaging students' imaginations in learning is one key to successful teaching. But it is not altogether clear what the imagination is and how it is to be reliably engaged. Often it seems to be assumed that any weird activities can be called "imaginative", and some people seem to believe that the imagination operates exclusively or at least mostly in the arts. I will try to analyze "imagination" and show how it changes during our lives at school and university, and then explore how we can use this understanding of imagination to make our teaching of mathematics emotionally meaningful and engaging to students of all ages.


15:00 Coffee Break


15:30 Panel Discussion
Fletcher Challenge Theatre
Title: Obstacles To Understanding
Participants: Rose Albiston (Terry Fox Secondary), Pamela Hagen (Westwood Elementary/UBC), Jonathan Jedwab (SFU), Shabnam Kavousian (Langara/SFU).


17:00 Wrap-up, Reports From Workshops


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