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ALTC Training Workshop

Effective Learning, Effective Teaching in the Quantitative Disciplines

30 September - 1 October 2010, The University of Queensland

Sponsored by AustMS and AMSI

This practical, hands-on and interactive workshop was designed specifically for lecturers and tutors teaching in the quantitative disciplines. It was sponsored by AustMS and AMSI and has been funded by the Australian Learning & Teaching Council.

Workshop information

The workshop was convened by Diane Donovan (The University of Queensland) and Dr Birgit Loch (Swinburne University of Technology). This workshop is being run as part of an Australian Learning & Teaching Council project.

  • ALTC project summary
  • Presenter biographies
  • Workshop abstracts
  • Workshop timetable
  • Information and consent form copy
  • Project team
    - Associate Professor Leigh Wood, Macquarie University (Project Leader)
    - Professor Nalini Joshi, University of Sydney (Project Deputy Leader)
    - Professor Walter Bloom, Murdoch University
    - Dr Matt Bower, Macquarie University
    - Dr Natalie Brown, University of Tasmania
    - Associate Professor Diane Donovan, The University of Queensland
    - Dr Birgit Loch, Swinburne University of Technology
    - Dr Jane Skalicky, University of Tasmania 

Workshop resources

 

Plenary sessions

Thursday

14.00 – 15.00

Room 7-222

 

Presentation

 

The Pleasure Principle

Bill Barton

Mathematicians speak like addicts about their subject. Mathematical knowledge is a source of intense and intimate pleasure. What would the undergraduate experience look like if it was directed at getting students addicted? This plenary session will make an argument for a research-based design for tempting undergraduates into deep mathematical engagement, rather than relying on tradition to guide our practice. In doing so many traditional university practices are challenged.

Friday

09.00 – 10.00

Room 7-222

 

Effectively communicating mathematics in a non-academic working environment

Katrina Hibberd

 This plenary session will discuss the experiences of a mathematician making the transition from an academic to working in Queensland Treasury Corporation as a financial analyst responsible for developing forward curves relating to the electricity generation sector. One of the key challenges was to communicate effectively my methodologies and results in plain English, in a non-technical way. This plenary will chart this discovery process in developing effective communication skills; a process which will be used to start a discussion about how these processes can be used to develop assessment for mathematics students at a University level.

Workshop sessions

Thursday

15.45 – 17.00

ACTS Laboratory
Room 14-132

 

 

Mathematics teaching and pen-screen technology

Diane Donovan and Birgit Loch

This workshop session will be offered in UQ's $2.5m ACTS (Advanced Concepts Teaching Space) lab, a 100 seat lecture theatre equipped with pen-enabled screens for all students. This interactive session will highlight the use of tablet technologies in mathematics education. It will demonstrate the effective use of these technologies at two levels:

1. where the lecturer has access to a tablet PC for electronic writing in class, and

2. where the students have access to a pen-enabled screen, which can lead to a dramatic change in the dynamics of a class and in student engagement when students actively contribute, by writing mathematics on the screen, which can then be shared with the whole class.

Friday

10.30 – 11.45

Room 67-442

 

Presentation

 

Designing a lesson plan

Leigh Wood

Consider the scenario: everything is in place - students, room, textbook/worksheet, lecture notes, CAS, cool mathematics, exciting applications ...You have spent weeks preparing the mathematics so that it all flows well and have designed activities that test whether students have understood the concepts and techniques. You can sit back and relax! But, now the Engineering Faculty want you to teach vectors first because they need it in engineering, but you fear the students are not ready for this. Some of the students are enrolling late because they received their offers late and you find the room is too small.

In this workshop session, participants will work together to incorporate the following elements into designing a class:

1. Audience

1.1 The prior knowledge and skills that students bring with them

1.2 Where the students are going - motivation is a key factor in student engagement

1.3 There will always be a range of talents and skills - cater for gifted as well as weaker students

1.4 Students have a range of learning styles

2. Service faculty (if appropriate)

2.1 Engage with the lecturers in the service faculty and what they require of the students and you

2.2 Look at the lecture material of the service faculty to gauge the type of mathematics etc needed

2.3 Try to use the same notation as the service faculty

3. Mathematics

3.1 Motivation to study mathematics is beauty and utility - cover both these aspects in every class

3.2 Historical references are useful

3.3 Language. Mathematics is the language of science - clarify notation and jargon

4. You

4.1 Friendly, enthusiastic, team player

4.2 Organised, efficient, quick feedback

Friday

10.30 – 11.45

Room 67-342

 

Presentation

 

 

Being smart about planning your professional learning

Merrilyn Goos

Learning to teach in higher education is a lifelong adventure. Most people begin their university teaching career with little or no formal preparation, and learn to teach on the job¹. While learning from experience can improve your practice, a more thoughtful and strategic approach to planning your professional learning can be even more rewarding. This session will help participants to identify and evaluate a wide range formal and informal professional learning activities that are typically available to university teachers, and to package these activities together into a plan that meets individuals¹ needs.

Friday

11.45 – 13.00

Room 67-442

 

Presentation

Handout 1

 

 

 

Designing a unit

Natalie Brown and Jane Skalicky

Planning, delivering and reflecting on a unit are fundamental roles of a teaching academic. In essence the role is one of a learning leader in the subject area. This workshop session will address important aspects of planning a unit for delivery. Drawing on constructive alignment principles, the process of determining learning outcomes, formulating assessment tasks and planning for teaching and learning activities will be discussed. Models from practice will be used to enable informed critique of unit planning, and participants will leave the workshop session with some practical tools and strategies to critique their own units.

Friday

11.45 – 13.00

Room 67-542

 

Engaging engineering students: using directed online tutorials for teaching statistics

Richard Wilson

Teaching service courses has many challenges, especially when the course covers statistical concepts and methodology. For students who enrol in such courses (which are often compulsory), the material seems alien and superfluous to the rest of their programme. Consequently, one of the first challenges is to show how the course will be relevant and to thereby motivate students to engage with the material. This is particularly true with statistics courses as the concepts and methods are best learnt by exposure to a variety of data sets which students explore and analyse. This session will focus on methods for engaging engineering students in learning statistical concepts and methods. Aspects of effective static communication will be discussed briefly, with the main emphasis on an internet based tutorial system which has been under development since 2006. A description of the current version of the system will be given, with session participants having the opportunity to be part of a short tutorial. Student responses to the tutorial system will be discussed, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

Friday

14.00 – 15.15

Room 67-442

 

Presentation

Handout

Writing assessment tasks

Leigh Wood and Geoff Smith

Assessment, learning tasks and feedback tell students what we value as mathematicians, especially those students from service disciplines. It is difficult to design questions which are the appropriate level and that test the knowledge you want students to demonstrate. They also need to be easy to mark. This workshop session will concentrate on writing learning tasks to develop key mathematical knowledge and skills in a way that is applicable and relevant to student learning in service disciplines. We will design tasks for exams and assignments. Participants are encouraged to bring examples to share if they wish. This workshop session will demonstrate a range of questions and their learning aims. Participants will break into discipline groups and develop tasks using a taxonomy designed for mathematics.

Some jargon:

Learning tasks: activities that students work on to develop skills and knowledge

Taxonomy: a hierachy of skills and knowledge. A taxonomy can help you to assess a range of skills

Authentic assessment: assessment that is based on "real world" activities of mathematicians and/or others.

Friday

14.00 – 15.15

Room 67-443

 

Presentation

 

 

Language of mathematics and software: Scientific Notebook

Walter Bloom

In this workshop session, participants will be introduced to some of the basic features of Scientific Notebook, which in practice can be taken on board by first year students within 20 minutes. We also look at some more advanced features and discuss how Scientific Notebook can be integrated into tutorial and laboratory sessions to facilitate student learning. One important aspect is the use of Scientific Notebook to check solutions to mathematical problems, isolating errors when the solution turns out to be incorrect. The emphasis will be on the student doing the problem by hand, but using Scientific Notebook for support where a particular calculation is causing difficulty.

Scientific Notebook is a computational mathematical software package that is very easy to learn and very useful for many of the calculations that a student would meet in an undergraduate degree, be it mathematics, engineering, physics or any other discipline where mathematics plays a significant role. It is a menu-driven WYSIWYG system that is well suited to handle both mathematics and text.

Friday

15.30 – 16.45

Room 67-442

 

Presentation

Handout 1

Handout 2

Handout 3

Collecting evidence about your teaching

Natalie Brown and Jane Skalicky

Collecting evidence about our teaching has always been important to inform us about how our students are progressing towards learning outcomes. Increasingly, however, teachers in Higher Education are being asked to formalise this process for a range of purposes. These include meeting probationary requirements, applications for promotion, and gaining recognition and reward through teaching awards. This workshop will use the ALTC Teaching Award criteria as a basis for discussion about the forms of evidence that may be collected about our teaching, and how they may be used to enhance student learning. Collating, analysing and using evidence for the purposes of preparing a teaching portfolio will also be discussed. Participants should leave the workshop with an enhanced plan for collecting evidence about their own teaching.

Friday

15.30 – 16.45

Room 67-443

 

Presentation

 

Engaging students online

Matt Bower

A range of contemporary contribution and collaboration based technologies (Web 2.0) offer new possibilities for engaging mathematics students online. This workshop will introduce several online learning technologies and explore their potential for representing mathematical concepts, facilitating distributed problem solving, promoting interactive learning and teaching, and enabling peer-to-peer collaboration. The session will provide examples of how tools such as social bookmarking, micro-blogging, wikis, blogs, desktop recording, web-conferencing and others may be applied to teaching mathematics as well as providing an overarching framework for thinkingabout the integration of technology into learning and teaching.

 

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Updated: 18 Nov 2010
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