Mathematics Education Seminar

Section of Mathematics
University of Geneva

Discussion of issues related to teaching mathematics at the university level:
active learning, inquiry based learning, giving feedback to students, teaching proof writing, designing teaching materials, current research topics in mathematics education, etc..

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Organisers:
Beatriz Navarro Lameda
Nikita Nikolaev

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Schedule

The seminar takes place once every two weeks on Thursdays 11:10-12:00.
Usual location is Room 624, Section de mathématiques, 2-4 rue du Lièvre

Date Time Speaker Title Location
2 May 2019, Thursday
11:10-12:00
Paul Turner
(University of Geneva)
Mathema - an interactive book-appRoom 624
4 April 2019, Thursday
11:10-12:00
Beatriz Navarro Lameda
(University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
Teaching Proof-Writing Through In-Class ActivitiesRoom 624
21 March 2019, Thursday
11:10-12:00
Beatriz Navarro Lameda
(University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
Getting Them Talking: How to Engage StudentsRoom 624
7 March 2019, Thursday
11:10-12:00
Beatriz Navarro Lameda
(University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
"Ask. Don't tell"Room 624

Abstracts

2 May 2019
Paul Turner (University of Geneva)
Mathema - an interactive book-app 

It can be quite a challenge to describe to non-specialists what research mathematicians actually do. If asked, we often stumble in our responses, offering up garbled descriptions which range from the incomprehensible to the vacuous. As an attempt to provide a more considered response, Hugo Parlier (University of Luxembourg)  and I wrote a book, Mathema, whose aim is to give some idea of the basic processes of mathematical investigation. We wanted to do this in a way that required few prerequisites, yet which offered a glimpse of the true spirit of mathematics. The novelty of Mathema is that it is an (iPad-based) interactive book-app.

In this session I will present Mathema saying something about our motivations and underlying ideas, and also talk about the challenges we faced creating interactive material. There will be an opportunity for hands-on demonstrations and plenty of discussion.

4 April 2019
Beatriz Navarro Lameda (University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
Teaching Proof-Writing Through In-Class Activities

In most mathematics courses students are expected to learn how to write proofs on their own from examples seen in class and textbooks. However, this approach to teaching mathematical writing is extremely ineffective and, more often than not, students still struggle to produce good proofs even at the end of the semester.

There are many things that instructors can do to help students learn this very important skill. In this seminar we will discuss different in-class activities designed to improve students' writing skills. We will see examples ranging from quick activities targeting specific issues to more involved ones, such as presentations by students followed by a whole class discussion.

21 March 2019
Beatriz Navarro Lameda (University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
Getting Them Talking: How to Engage Students

Attempting to engage students in class discussion can be intimidating. What if they refuse to talk? How do I make sure that everyone is actively participating? Indeed, we all have experienced the very awkward “Are there any questions?” followed by absolute silence. Or finding ourselves in a classroom dominated by a few talkative students while most of the class sits quietly.

How can we, as instructors, get students talking when they are initially reticent? How do we get the quiet students engaged? How do we ensure that even the shy students feel more comfortable participating in class discussions? In this interactive seminar we will discuss some techniques and activities that can be used to get more students, perhaps even all students, engaged in class.

7 March 2019
Beatriz Navarro Lameda (University of Geneva/University of Toronto)
"Ask. Don't Tell."

When a student asks for help with an exercise, ideally we shouldn't just give them the answer. Instead, we should help them identify the confusion, guide them to resolve the confusion, so that they can solve the problem themselves. But how do you actually do it in a real classroom with an actual student? What if the student isn't cooperating? What if they just keep saying "I don't know", and they just expect you to solve their problem or just give them the answer? The easiest thing to do is to give them the answer, but it is also the worst thing to do.

In this interactive seminar we will focus on how to get students to think and answer their own questions. We will use examples drawn from questions of actual students in actual situations.

Based on a talk by the same title by Alfonso Gracia-Saz.

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