Past Talks (2020-2021):

Autumn 2020

October 4

Workshop on Universal Design in Online and Hybrid Mathematics courses
(Nikki Pitcher, UChicago)

Abstract: As we move teaching and research content online, it is especially important to consider best practices for accessibility. The principles of universal design seek to ensure equitable access for all users, yet applying guidelines to courses in mathematics pose difficulties for instructors. In this workshop, we will discuss the goals of universal design and attempt to address issues of accessibility in meeting the needs of diverse learners.

October 21

The Language of Limits
(Sarah Ziesler, UChicago)

Abstract: We will explore some of the difficulties in teaching limits successfully so that students have a strong conceptual understanding of limits and their role of limits in calculus. Does the use of informal language about limits aid conceptual understanding or lead to misconceptions? Or both? We will discuss various aspects of these questions and also some of the strategies suggested in the literature.

November 4

Active Learning Techniques for Remote Teaching
(Daniel Hess, UChicago)

Abstract: As several studies have shown, giving students time to actively do mathematics in the classroom is an important and effective way for them to learn mathematics. When teaching remotely, some of the old techniques that we are used to using in physical classrooms may not be as easy to implement. Fortunately, teaching remotely also offers new opportunities to engage our students. In this talk, we will discuss various active learning techniques that may be used in remote classrooms, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. Participants should feel free to share their own experiences.

November 11

Professional Development - Trajectories in Academia
(Jitka Stehnova, UChicago)

Abstract: This week the Pedagogy Seminar is hosting a Professional Development panel/talk with Jitka Stehnova. This will be a two part series, with the second part in Week 9.

(Part 1 - Getting ready for a job market, first round of interviews in 2020 - 2021) Trajectories in academia - research postdoc, teaching postdoc, teaching tenure track at Liberal Arts Colleges, Instructional tracks at larger Universities. What are my options? How many waves of applications are there? Do I apply to all or do I wait? What are the universities looking for in my application when applying for a teaching postdoc vs. teaching tenure-track at Liberal Arts Colleges vs. Instructional Professor positions at larger Universities? Getting ready for a zoom interview - how do I set myself apart from other candidates? What are good/bad answers, good/bad questions to ask a hiring committee? Do I follow up after my Zoom interview?

November 18

Aligning Growth and Grades
(Mark Bly, UChicago)

Abstract: You've been assigned to teach a course, and you begin to imagine the student growth that you would like to facilitate during your course. Depending on the course and your personal preferences, this imagined growth may take any number of forms. Now, consider the way grades will be assessed and calculated in your course. Note that the act of establishing a grading scheme inherently encourages certain forms of growth over others (especially with highly grade-conscientious students). In this seminar, we will inquire upon the forms of student growth that we prefer to emphasize, investigate ways in which such growth could be assessed, and reflect upon how well our grading schemes align with our preferred forms of growth. As time permits, we may consider some alternative grading schemes and discuss the growth areas that seem to align well with each.

December 2

Professional Development - Interviews and Offers
(John Boller & Jitka Stehnova, UChicago)

Abstract: This is the second part of our series on Professional Development.

Part 2 - I receive an invite for an on-campus interview (possibly virtual in 2020 - 2021), how do I get ready? Things to ask a chair of a hiring committee before arriving to campus. What talk should I prepare? What questions should I ask during my interview with a hiring committee, when meeting with the chair of the Mathematics Department, the dean, the students? I am an international student, what are additional questions to go through when interviewing on campus? Do I follow up after each interview? I got an offer (multiple offers), how do I navigate between offers, how do I negotiate my offer, what is appropriate and what is not?

Winter 2021

January 20

Constructing Teaching Methods Based on Student Needs
(Kale Davies, UChicago)

Abstract: Is there a better way to do this? I ask this question almost every day that I teach. The question itself is extremely broad, covering the way ideas are communicated, the questions we ask students, the grading schemes we implement and the methods of assessment we use. There are such a wide variety of changes that can be made, each of which has the potential to improve student learning. Further, due to the recent need for remote learning, many of our standard practices have been made ineffective or impossible to replicate. I intend to discuss several examples of changes that I have made both since beginning teaching at UChicago and since starting remote learning. Using these examples, I will demonstrate how slight tweaks to our teaching approach, based on the needs of the students being taught, can greatly impact student learning and their overall experience of mathematics.

January 27

Plagiarism Open Discussion

Abstract: How should we handle instances of plagiarism? What are our options and how do we choose? Do these options differ depending on whether plagiarism takes place on a homework assignment, a midterm exam, or the final exam? What experiences have you had in your classes and how have you dealt with them?

February 3

Active Learning in Mathematics
(Seyed Zoalroshd, UChicago)

Abstract: I will speak about strategies to engage students in class and will discuss possible challenges that may arise.

February 10

Math Major Magnetism: The Stephens Model
(Mark Bly, UChicago)

Abstract: Between 1976 and 1986, the percentage of college-bound American high school students intending to major in mathematics fell from over 6% to under 3% (per a 1989 study of the National Academy of Sciences). During that same time, the percentage of bachelor's graduates earning math degrees at SUNY-Potsdam rose from 7% to 25%. Among those Potsdam undergraduates completing the math program, over 50% were female and over 15% continued onto graduate school. Notably, this period of historically significant productivity at Potsdam coincided with the department leadership of chair Clarence F. Stephens. In this seminar, we will examine references that discuss features of the Potsdam department under Stephens which contributed to their extraordinary magnetism among undergraduates.

February 17

Authentic Assessment Methods in a Remote Math Classroom
(Selma Yildrim, UChicago)

Abstract: Technological advances, especially wide use of internet, brought a new set of challenges as well as opportunities. Through authentic assessments, we can create a customized learning experience that helps us connect better with our students while improving their understanding, preserving course integrity, and teaching soft skills and critical thinking skills that they could use beyond our classrooms. In this talk, I will give several examples after a brief introduction of authentic assessments.

February 24

Exam Questions "Show and Tell"

Abstract: What makes a good exam question? What makes a good complete exam? All attendees are encouraged to bring a sample exam question (or a full sample exam) to share with the group. This could be a question that you are considering using for your final and want feedback on, a question that you have used previously and went well, a question that you have used previously and went badly, a question that you really liked but was difficult to grade etc.

March 3

The Math Course Archive
(Dylan Quintana, UChicago)

Abstract: I've been putting together an online archive of materials that instructors have developed for their introductory math classes, which will soon be made available to everyone in the department. I'd like to share what I have so far and discuss plans for making the archive more useful to current and future instructors. This project is still in an early phase of development, so it could use additional resources and ideas!

Spring 2021

April 7

Open Discussion: Online Resources

Abstract: Do you have a favourite YouTube video that you share with your class? Or have you made a video yourself that you think works particularly well? Do you know a website with great application problems and/or explanations of a particular topic? Have your students told you about a resource that they have found helpful? Have you found out that your students are using an online resource that you think is not good? In this session we will share resources that we have found helpful or unhelpful.

April 14

Choose Your Own Math Education Adventure
(Anne M. Ho, University of Tennessee - Knoxville)

Abstract: Mathematicians who teach math courses at higher education institutions come from a variety of backgrounds, some of which involve formal education in pedagogy and some of which do not. Some may identify as math teaching practitioners, theorists, and/or researchers. Because of this range of experiences, I will facilitate a discussion on an overview of tools in the math education landscape. During this interactive talk, we will explore teaching practices, research, and resources for college math teaching.

April 21

Building Community Outside the Classroom
(Josh Brummer, University of Nebraska - Lincoln)

Abstract: The time that students spend with an instructor or collaborating together during a class period is incredibly valuable. During this seminar, the speaker will share a number of resources and experiences relating to building community (and oftentimes content knowledge) outside the classroom, thus preparing to make the most of the valuable resource of synchronous class time. The speaker will highlight in particular Perusall, a collaborative annotation platform that facilitates discussion among peers and encourages students to read the textbook before class. The speaker will facilitate discussion throughout about others' challenges and successes with creating a community among students.

April 28

Open Discussion: History of Mathematics
(with guest Jennifer Hart, librarian)

Abstract: Is there a place for elements of the history of mathematics in our classes? Are there particular anecdotes and/or topics that you routinely like to include? Could the incorporation of history help to promote diversity and inclusion in the mathematics classroom?

May 5

Standards-Based Grading - The Why and How
(Heather Smith, Davidson College)

Abstract: Why do we assign grades? What should grades reflect? Grappling with these questions led me to utilize standard-based grading in all of my courses. We will discuss the reasoning behind this grading system and go into the details of a simple implementation. I will also share ideas for variations on this basic model.

May 12

The Mathematics Project at Minnesota
(Esther Banaian, Sarah Brauner & McCleary Philbin, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities)

Abstract: The Mathematics Project at Minnesota (MPM) is a week-long workshop at the University of Minnesota (UMN) for UMN undergraduates who come from groups underrepresented in mathematics. The workshop seeks to increase the participation and success of such students in the mathematics major at the University by providing students early in the undergraduate careers with a community, role-models, and a sense of mathematical empowerment. Each year, the workshop is organized entirely by graduate students. In this talk, we (the organizers of MPM) will describe the program and discuss its successes, as well as challenges we have faced. Our hope is to provide a framework for other institutions to implement a similar program.

May 19

Follow-up Discussion

Abstract: This week in the Pedagogy Seminar, we will have a follow-up discussion on the topic of last week's meeting: The Mathematics Project at Minnesota (MPM), an annual four-day workshop for undergraduates at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities who come from underrepresented groups in mathematics. Additionally, we will hear from Devon Moore at the Center for College Success about similar programs here at the University of Chicago.

Given the demographics of our student population (to be shared during the seminar), our goal is to discuss how we might build upon existing programs, or possibly create new ones, to meet the needs of our undergraduates. Even though MPM was designed for an R1 university with an undergraduate population that is much larger than that of the University of Chicago, we may nonetheless draw inspiration from this program in discussing how this might be done. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion. In particular, it is NOT necessary to have attended last week's talk.

Back to Homepage