Lunch Series for Teaching and Learning

The Lunch Series on Teaching and Learning is a monthly event organized by CWSEI-Math. The list of events are now posted in the Mathematics Department event page.


An informal discussion of the "background tutorial" math remediation initiative for incoming first-year science majors at York

Speaker: Kim Maltman, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University
Date: 10 Dec 2012
Abstract: At York, we have found first-year science majors coming to us from the Ontario high school system in general rather poorly prepared for first-year university mathematics. The result is very high drop-plus-fail rates in our first-year math courses and a resulting high attrition rate in the early years of our degree programs. A major source of the problem appears to be the widespread use in the schools of an approach heavily emphasizing the memorization of solution problem templates, an approach which leaves a majority of our incoming science majors with deficiencies in very basic algebra, trigonometry, and, even more problematic, their intuitive understanding of the basic operations of arithmetic. In this discussion, I will outline an approach I have developed involving 4-day, 4-hour-per-day intensive remediation sessions focussed on changing the way such students approach mathematics. The program was begun in 2005 and significantly expanded in 2009, now handling between 15 and 20% of the incoming class each year. I will present statistics outlining the significant impact we have seen on student performance. The aim is to keep the presentation very informal, leaving lots of time for discussion, feedback and suggestions on possibilities for further improving the initiative.

TAAP Course presentation

Speaker: Panel: Carmen Bruni, Vince Chan, Mike Lindstrom, Tatchai Titichetrakun, UBC
Date: 27 Nov 2012
Abstract: The participants of the TA Accreditation Program will present some concrete tools they have gotten from participating at this course. This presentation is intended for the whole department, both professors curious about TAs professional development and graduate students wanting to know more about this program. For more info : http://blogs.ubc.ca/mathtaap

Efficient coordination and running of a large first year course - a survey of useful online tools

Speaker: Eric Cytrynbaum, UBC
Date: 8 Nov 2012
Abstract: In this talk, I'll present the tools that I've been using to run one of our department's multi-section first year calculus courses (Math 102). I'll discuss the how and why of what we have set up including two wikis (one public, one private), WeBWorK, and a third party forum called Piazza.com.

Using clickers in a math class

Speaker: Joseph Lo, Costanza Piccolo, UBC
Date: 4 October 2012 Abstract: We will discuss strategies for an effective use of clickers in a math class, including how to write "good" math clicker questions and how to manage the timing of clicker questions within a lecture.


Flipping a math class: How I learned to stop worrying and abandon in-class lecturing

Speaker: Chad Topaz, Macalester College, St. Paul MN
Date: 14 March 2012
Abstract: I will discuss recent pedagogical efforts which involve moving lecture-based elements of courses to a pre-class online format. These efforts aim to encourage students' mental effort outside of class and to leverage in-class meeting time to meet particular learning goals. The course design is built upon three technological tools. First, the LiveScribe pen enables pre-recording of lecture material. Second, Google Moderator is an online environment that aggregates and sorts user-submitted questions. Finally, PRS clickers facilitate a dialogue about material during class meeting time, and facilitate ongoing student assessment, feedback, and metacognitive reflective practice. Through a course design case study and some demonstrations, we will explore pedagogical and technical aspects of this learning ecosystem. I will leave ample time for discussion and questions.

What we have learned in Calculus class

Speaker: Warren Code, UBC
Date: 28 February 2012
Abstract: I will present results from a variety of measurements of student background and learning in differential calculus (Math 104/184 in particular) taken over the last couple of years. I will provide responses, based on our evidence, to the following questions: 1. Are our students well-prepared for calculus at UBC? 2. Are there cases where students can "get the right answer" on a difficult-looking problem but have little or no understanding of that they have done? 3. Are there instructional choices that can make a difference?

Effective strategies for integrating Matlab programming skills in a Linear algebra course: The new computer labs in Math 152

Speaker: Costanza Piccolo, UBC
Date: 31 January 2012
Abstract: In 2009 and 2010 the Math 152 computer labs underwent major changes both in content and structure. In-depth assessments of the effectiveness of the new lab activities showed that learning of basic Matlab skills did occur in the labs and was not due to previous programming experience. More importantly, students who had attended the new labs performed better than the previous year's cohort when tested on basic Matlab programming concepts a few months after the end of the labs. We will discuss in what ways the new lab activities may have contributed to improving student learning and what challenges instructors face when they develop activities that support the learning of Matlab for novice programmers.

What is a diagnostic test?

Speaker: Katya Yurasovskaya, UBC
Date: 8 December 2011
Abstract: A diagnostic test is a useful tool that you can build to measure and determine many aspects of your course and your incoming students: background, existing misconceptions, knowledge and beliefs about your subject - in short, anything you may wish to know and that will influence student learning in your course. In the talk we will look at the diagnostic tests that have been built in our department for various courses, and discuss some practical issues of putting such a tool together. If you are interested in creating a diagnostic test for a course you teach, please contact the Mathematics Education Initiative - and we will build one for you, based on your needs and requirements. http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cwsei/

Online Learning Tools in Undergraduate Mathematics

Speaker: Greg Mayer, UBC
Date: 22 November 2011
Abstract: This informal presentation provides an overview of current technologies that are being used at UBC to enhance student learning through online technologies, including screen casting, WeBWorK, Wolfram Alpha, UBC Blogs, and the UBC Wiki.

Study Skills

Speakers: Warren Code, Joseph Lo, UBC
Date: 1 November 2011
Abstract: This session is about student study skills:
What do we know already? We present some recent data from a selection of first-year Math courses to look for indicators of poor study habits, and to give a sense of how widespread this issue can be. There are indicators from other departments that some students need a boost even later on in their programs.
How do we measure them? We will present the instruments we have used, and suggestions for collecting the same sort of data in your own class.
What are some ways to address study skill issues? We suggest some easy-to-implement strategies to help get students on track.
We will also have time for discussion about study skills - what have you noticed among your own students, and what have you tried?

The Course Archive Project: A Teaching Resource for Everyone

Speakers: Costanza Piccolo, UBC
Date: 4 October 2011
Abstract: Are you teaching a course for the first time and would like to see old midterm exams? Are you looking for old course materials from when you taught the same course a few years ago but can't find them? Would you like to have access to old homework assignments and worked solutions for the course you are teaching? Have you ever had to spend time collecting and compressing files to share course materials with your colleagues only to find out that your zip file is too big to send by email? If any of these applies to you, then the Course Archive Project (CAP) is what you need. Now available on a secure department site, CAP allows you to store, search through, and easily access commonly-used course materials. We will give a short demo of the site and discuss effective ways to organize materials, including strategies to upload documents and enter information. Pizza and pops will be available.


Basic Skills in Mathematics: What students can and cannot do

Speakers: Joseph Lo, Costanza Piccolo, UBC
Date: 12 April 2011
Abstract: What are the basic skills in Mathematics that can affect success in first-year Calculus and beyond? We will give an overview of some of the results gathered from the Basic Skills Test and other similar tests. We will show what questions had the highest degree of correlation with performance in differential Calculus and discuss common students' errors. Data from a variety of courses will be presented, ranging from Math 110 to Math 180, 104, and 184, but also including a few examples from Science One. Finally we will show that some of the weaknesses in basics skills continue beyond first-year courses by discussing recent data from Math 220.

Building a diagnostic test for proof skills. Can we predict and increase success in an "introduction to proof" course?

Speakers: Sandi Merchant and Andrew Rechnitzer, UBC
Date: 24 March 2011
Abstract: One of our department's Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative projects is to assess and improve learning in our introductory proof course, Math 220. As part of this project, we have been developing a short (<=20 min) test to administer at the start of the term to assess incoming students' basic logic, computational skills and mathematics reading comprehension. Such a diagnostic test could then be used to predict individual students' performance in the course and to inform us of gaps in student knowledge and skills. In addition, by giving the test again at the end of term we can track learning gains and assess the effectiveness of any changes we are considering. In this talk we will discuss our "first draft" and our first results from Math 220 students in Fall 2010. Already this uncovers some interesting results and we will discuss how the predictive power of the test compares with using results from Calculus II. We also hope to gain some feedback from department members on the test itself. Are the skills we test the most important for learning mathematical proof? Are there important skills missing?

Student Perceptions of Mathematics

Speakers: Warren Code, Joseph Lo, Sandi Merchant, UBC
Date: 24 Feb 2011
Abstract: Do your students (or other people you meet) say anything about math or learning math that makes you cringe?
Student perceptions of mathematics play a role in their motivation and approaches to learning in their math courses. Last term, we adapted an existing survey for Physics (*) and surveyed students at the beginning and end of a range of Math courses (including several first-year calculus courses). This has allowed us to assess student attitudes and perceptions, and to track how they shift over time. In this Lunch Series, we will present our development of the survey and some of these initial results. We would also like to gather input from members of the department about the content of the survey: what perceptions or attitudes do mathematicians have about their own subject, and which would you hope students develop as they pursue their undergraduate degree? We hope to see you there for discussion and pizza.

Issues of the Transition to University Mathematics

Speaker: David Bressoud, Macalester College, St. Paul MN
Date: Jan 17, 2011
Abstract: This will be a survey of what we do and don't know about what happens to potential Mathematics, Science, and Engineering majors as they make the transition from high school to university mathematics, highlighting where the need for more information is most pressing and how university programs are adapting to meet the needs of entering students.


Speaker: Mark MacLean, UBC
Date: 30 Nov 2010
Abstract: Mark has been experimenting with the Livescribe Echo, a pen that records what you write along with audio commentary you may make while writing. By producing "pencasts" using this pen, he has been able to post responses to students' questions and solutions to problems that include discussion in the natural way that we do when working with students during our office hours or presenting ideas in class. The technology is simple to use: you just write and speak as you normally would. There are many possibilities for using this technology in mathematics classes.

Benefits and challenges of clickers in UBC Math courses: from our colleagues

Speakers: Panel: Steve Bennoun, Cindy Blois, Jim Bryan, Leah Keshet, David Kohler, Mark MacLean
Date: 2 Nov 2010
Abstract: This session will feature a panel of six UBC Math instructors of various stripes (three faculty and three grad students, one of whom is teaching for the first time) who are using clickers this term or did last year. There will be a brief introduction on instructional use, driven in part by clickers in the audience, so you will be able to see a sample of the technology in action. This will not be a technical how-to, however; the bulk of the time will be devoted to hearing from the panel members about their classes: Did the technology help to achieve instructional goals? What were the challenges in terms of lesson design and technology use? What was surprising?