Changing the Culture 2005

Changing the Culture 2005:
Mathematics for All?

April 22, 2005
SFU at Harbour Centre
515 Hastings Street, Vancouver

The 8th Annual Changing the Culture Conference, organized and sponsored by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, will again bring together mathematicians, mathematics educators and school teachers from all levels, to work together towards improving teaching of mathematics at all levels.

Conference Programme

8:30 Registration

9:00 Opening Remarks

9:15 Understanding Understanding Mathematical Concepts
Rina Zazkis, Tanya Berezovski, Calin Lucus and Natasha Sirotich, SFU
We all want our students to achieve better knowledge and deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. But do we know what our students know? Do we appreciate their difficulties? Do we understand their understanding of mathematical concepts? Researchers in mathematics education constantly struggle with these questions.
In this presentation three secondary school teachers will share several results from their graduate work at SFU and their recently conducted research on understanding several mathematical concepts by high school students and preservice teachers. They will discuss their insights on students' understanding of composition of functions, logarithms and irrational numbers and present pedagogical ideas that may assist in shaping a more profound understanding of these mathematical concepts in students.

10:15 Coffee break

10:45 Inspiring Students in Mathematics Classroom
Philip Loewen, UBC

11:15 Workshops Part I
1. Calculus 12: The Ultimate Precalculus Course?, Room 1900
Moderators: Veselin Jungic (SFU), Susan Millner (UCFV) and James Ahn (Fraser Heights Secondary)
For many students the first calculus course is the biggest challenge at the beginning of their post-secondary education. This workshop will discuss questions related to the preparation of high school students for this challenge. In particular, we will be interested in the role of Calculus 12 in the light of the recent changes in the curriculum of Principles of Math 12. Analysis conducted in recent years at both SFU and UBC indicates that Calculus 12 is the best preparation for university level Calculus courses. This workshop will look into why this is so, and how awareness of this may influence teaching Calculus both at university and at high school level.
2. Mathematics for Everybody?, Room 1420/1430
Moderator: Malgorzata Dubiel (SFU)
New SFU curriculum requirements, to be implemented in September 06, will have all students to take at least two "Quantitative/Analytical" courses. Many other universities have similar requirements. What mathematics courses can we offer to non-science students? How much mathematics should we expect students to learn?

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Panel Discussion: Making the Grade: How Reliable Are Our Assessment Standards?
Melania Alvarez-Adem, PIMS
Kerry Bidder, North Island Distance Education School
Jim Gaskill, BC Ministry of Education

15:00 Workshops Part II
The two workshops continue.

16:00 Coffee break

16:30 Public Lecture: The Math Instinct: The amazing mathematical abilities of animals, birds, insects, and babies, and what we can learn from them.
Keith Devlin, Stanford University
Most people think they don't have much mathematical ability, but they are wrong. Numerous studies have shown that practically every one of us has considerable facility with basic math, we just don't know it. Give the average person a math test and they will score poorly. But present themwith the very same problems in the form of a real-life activity (which they maybe don't think of as math) and they will score in the 95-100% range. In fact, it's not just ordinary people that have mathematical abilities. So do several species of animals. The talk will consider some of the more remarkable examples of natural mathematical ability in animals, and end by asking what, if anything, our fellow creatures have to offer that we can take into the math classroom.
Based on Devlin's book The Math Instinct: Why You're a Mathematical Genius (Along with Lobsters, Birds, Cats, and Dogs), published this month by Thunder's Mouth Press.

17:30 Closing Remarks

Previous Changing the Culture Conferences


For more information, contact conference organizer, Malgorzata Dubiel, dubiel at