# MathEd Forum

## MEETING MINUTES/AGENDA **January 30**,**2010**

**FIELDS MATHEMATICS EDUCATION FORUM RESEARCH DAY**

**January 30, 2010, 10 am - 2 pm**

Fields Institute, 222 College Street, Toronto

**Agenda**

*Morning program:*

10:00 - 10:10AM Reports: OAME, OMCA, OCMA, CMS, and other

10:10 - 10:30, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Lyndon Martin**, York University, **Jo Towers**, University
of Calgary

*Nature of mathematical understanding*

In this session we will focus on the nature of mathematical understanding,
and on how this can usefully be characterised and theorised. More
specifically, we will talk about our ongoing work, using ideas drawn
from the field of improvisation, which focuses on the growth of
collective and shared mathematical understandings. Over the last
few years we have been developing a framework of improvisational
characteristics which can be used to identify and describe particular
kinds of shared mathematical actions. In this session we will briefly
present our work to date and also describe the preliminary phase
of our current SSHRC-funded project which focuses on using and refining
our framework through a focus on the teaching of mathematics in
the high school.

10:40 - 11:00, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Shannon Kennedy**, MSc Candidate, McMaster University

*First Year Calculus: The Student Experience!*

The first year of university is filled with many changes and challenges,
including first year calculus! What is it about these introductory
calculus courses that makes them so challenging? In order to answer
this question and help our students we need to be able to understand
what they are going through. This is difficult for a typical mathematics
professor or TA, having never experienced such challenges first
hand! Therefore the goal of my master's thesis has been to gain
some understanding of the issues first year students' face and share
them with the other members of the mathematics department. To do
this I have held a series of in-depth interviews with students,
during which I asked them about their experiences in first year
calculus. In this presentation I will be discussing some of my preliminary
findings, and how we might use this information to improve the teaching
of mathematics.

11:10 - 11:30, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Ami Mamolo**, Queen's University, **Peter Taylor**, Queen's
University

*Reconceptualising teaching and learning in a large first-year
Calculus course*

Engagement, investigation, discovery, participation, community--these
are: (1) key aspects of mathematical learning, (2) socio-cultural
rhetoric in theories of learning, (3) popular buzzwords around math
education circles that are supposed to indicate how teachers ought
to conduct their classes. Although social aspects of learning have
been widely acknowledged within the education literature, there
is yet a need for instructional design which attends to these aspects
while also meeting the reality of most classroom settings within
Canada. This presentation looks at some of the challenges and possibilities
of implementing a 'learning through participation' metaphor in a
very large, very real first-year Calculus course.

11:40 - 12:00, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Asia Matthews**, Department of Math and Stats, Queen's University

*Teaching mathematicians how to teach*

One of the difficulties that educators face in conducting research
is the influential random variable: the teacher. Mathematics instructors
are enormously influential both at the lower levels and at the post-secondary
level. As mathematicians we sort-of love the stereotypical math
professor. As math educators we recognize that it takes knowledge
of mathematics AND an understanding of teaching and learning to
teach well. My interest is in mathematics pedagogy instruction for
post-secondary mathematics instructors. I am doing a review of existing
programs as well as conducting interviews with mathematics graduates
and instructors. I will

then design two courses - an overview seminar and a full-term course
- that can be tailored to fit the needs of individual mathematics
departments and can be easily implemented. I will present an existing
course outline and I will solicit suggestions from participants.

LUNCH: 12:10 - 1:00PM

*Afternoon program:*

1:00 - 1:20, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Nirmala Niresh**, University of Miami Ohio

(Via Skype)

*The significance of ethnomathematics research and its implications
for teacher education*

Sociocultural dimensions of mathematical knowledge have greatly
influenced research in the field of mathematics education in the
past few decades, resulting in the rise of different areas of research
that include ethnomathematics, everyday mathematics, situated cognition,
and workplace mathematics.

The term ethnomathematics was coined by Ubiratan D Ambrosio and
denotes the mathematics which is practiced among distinct cultural
groups. Examples of ethnomathematics include mathematics used by
different groups of people such as Kpelle and Tshokwe tribe of Africa,
Mayans of South America, Maori and Warlpiri of Oceania, Inuit, Iroquois,
and Navajo of North America, and the Oksapmin of Papua New Guinea.
Ethnomathematics could also refer to the mathematical practices
that adults and children engage in outside the school settings.
Examples include mathematics used by adults outside the school settings
or at work places - mathematical practices of bus conductors, nurses,
pilots, candy sellers, and best buy shoppers, and carpet layers.

In this session, I will provide a brief overview of research on
ethnomathematics and everyday mathematics. In particular I will
address the following questions:

" What is ethnomathematics? Why is it an important field of
study?

" In what ways can we incorporate ethnomathematics in teacher
education?

" What are the implications of ethnomathematics research on
the teaching and learning of mathematics?

1:30 - 1:50, plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion

**Richard Barwell**, University of Ottawa

*How mathematicians talk about mathematics*

While much has been written about the nature of written mathematics,
both from a linguistic perspective and from an educational perspective,
there is little analysis of how mathematicians talk about mathematics.
In this seminar, I will present some findings from discourse analysis
of a corpus of 5 radio broadcasts, in which mathematicians engage
in unscripted discussion and explanation of advanced mathematical
ideas for a general audience. The mathematics treated includes symmetry,
prime numbers and higher dimensional geometry. My analysis draws
on discursive psychology to explore how the participants construct
mathematics and mathematical thinking. For this seminar, I will
particularly focus on the role of indexicality in these constructions.
I conclude by discussing some implications for mathematics education.

2:00 P.M.CONCLUSION

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