Past Talks (2021-2022):

Autumn 2021

October 3

The Uncle Vanya Lecture
(John Boller, UChicago)

Abstract: John Boller will be talking about his "Uncle Vanya" lecture on epsilon-delta proofs. If you've ever wanted some tips on how to approach this topic in the classroom (especially if you're teaching the Math 130s or 150s), please join us!

October 13

Exam Writing Workshop

Abstract: We will be discussing how to write effective midterm exams. In particular, three of our colleagues (one AIP and two grad students) will share a past exam, highlight a few questions, and explain their thought process behind constructing the exam as a whole. Our aim is to focus on exams for the Math 150s sequence, so if you are currently teaching one of those courses, this will be especially relevant to you!

October 20

Introduction to the MAA Instructional Practices Guide

Abstract: In this meeting, we will discuss the manifesto in the MAA Instructional Practices Guide. We will be using the "after you read" and "action steps" sections of the accompanying book study guide to guide our conversation, so please take a look at these before attending.

November 3

Some Factors to Consider When Creating Innovative Teaching and Learning Experiences
(Selma Yildirim, UChicago)

Abstract: For centuries, teaching is shaped by needs of people and tools that were currently available at that time. This was usually a refined process, calibrated at each stage and evolved gradually until the coronavirus pandemic. Rapid transition to online teaching during pandemic brought reconsidering many layers of teaching and learning into focus to create the best possible learning experiences for students. Even before pandemic, new technological advances and educational trends in creating innovative teaching and learning experiences was a popular topic. After I present some factors to consider such as learning theories and current generation of students and their needs, an open discussion period will follow and some prompts to initiate the conversation will be given during the talk.

November 10

Pedagogical Implications of Viewing Mathematics through a Sociocultural Perspective
(Beste Gucler, UMass Dartmouth)

Abstract: Mathematics is traditionally characterized as a cognitive and individualistic activity whereas recent sociocultural views characterize mathematics as a cultural and collective activity. In this talk, I will explain the foundational assumptions of sociocultural perspectives towards mathematics and discuss the implications of these views for pedagogy of mathematics. I will particularly focus on the role mathematical discourse plays in teaching and will provide strategies to enhance mathematical communication in the classroom.

November 17

MAA Guide Discussion
(Daniel Hess, UChicago)

Abstract: This week, we will revisit our discussion on fostering student engagement (Session 2 of the book guide). The corresponding reading is section CP.1 (& subsections) in the MAA Guide.

Winter 2022

January 19

MAA Guide Discussion
(Daniel Hess, UChicago)

Abstract: This discussion was a continuation of the discussion on 11/17/21.

January 26

In What Ways (and How Much) Do We, Instructors, Matter in STEM Courses?
(Kiki Zissimopoulos, Northwestern)

Abstract: We will think about the ways in which instructor behavior might influence student motivation and belonging. I will summarize the research on Instructor Talk and introduce ways in which instructors might impact student motivation and belonging. I'll also share my journey, why I'm interested in this topic, and how it might related to diversity and inclusion in STEM. Some questions we'll explore include: how much should STEM instructors self-disclose and does self-disclosure play any role in student's sense of belonging? What role do our non-content comments play in a student's sense of belonging? What assumptions might students make about you? How accurate are these assumptions and do they matter? We'll brainstorm a variety of ways that we can connect with our students and still remain authentic to our own personalities.

February 2

MAA Guide Discussion
(Selma Yildirim, UChicago)

Abstract: This discussion will cover sections CP 2.1 - 2.5 in the MAA Guide, which focus on the issue of selecting appropriate mathematical tasks for students.

February 16

Python Programming as a Teaching Aid
(Selma Yildirim, UChicago)

Abstract: Python programming language is one of the most widely used programming language that is easy to learn and applicable to many areas. In particular, using Python as a teaching aid could bring many benefits such as providing a deeper understanding of a topic by exploring it further, creating a more engaging teaching and learning experience, and increasing effectiveness of assessments. In this talk, after an overview of using Python as a teaching aid, I will present some examples.

February 23

Discovering a Nontriviality of the ε-δ Definition, in a Math Way
(Seung uk Jang, UChicago)

Abstract: A question that I always wondered on the ε-δ definition, was that "why δ, the variable for the domain, is dependent on ε, the variable for the range?" This contrasts with the "infinitesimal definition" of the limit, (any infinitesimal δ ≠ 0 has f(c+δ)-L infinitesimal) where a change in the domain affects the change in the range. I will introduce how two definitions may be seen equivalent, in an appropriate space that the notion of infinitesimal is properly defined. Here a compactness argument will be a key step to derive the definition, which hinted me on where does the "inverted" quantification originate. Assuming that the compactness argument is a hurdle to comfortably understand the definition, some other ways to define limits (that detours the compactness argument) will be introduced.

March 2

MAA Guide Discussion
(Mark Bly, UChicago)

Abstract: This discussion will cover CP 2.6 - 2.9 in the MAA Guide, which are on the topic of mathematical communication and conceptual fluency.

Spring 2022

March 30

MAA Guide Discussion
(Mark Bly, UChicago)

Abstract: The Pedagogy Seminar will be starting up this week with a continuation of a discussion--led by Mark Bly--on the MAA Instructional Practices Guide. Specifically, we will be covering sections CP 2.6 - 2.9 in the guide, which are on the topic of mathematical communication and conceptual fluency. (As usual, it is recommended, but not necessary, to have read these sections beforehand to participate in the discussion.)

April 13

Developing Students' Evaluative Judgement -- Cooperative Peer Learning Strategies
(Sarah Ziesler, UChicago)

Abstract: Evaluating other students' work in mathematics classes can improve a student's evaluative judgement and their ability to communicate mathematics clearly and accurately. There has been extensive research on various peer assisted learning strategies. I will discuss both rubric-based and comparative assessment models as well as some of the things that I have tried myself.

April 27

Rethinking Grading
(Matt Boelkins, Grand Valley State University)

Abstract: For about 5 years from 2015 to 2020, I had a persistent nagging feeling while grading. Despite my careful time and effort in writing quizzes, exams, and homework exercises, and the extensive time I spent marking student work, every time I wrote "14/20" or something similar, I felt like I was reducing something to a number that wasn't best represented by a number. When returning papers, I would say aloud to my students, "Grades are not a measure of your worth as a human being." For my students, especially those who initially struggled, I think those words rang hollow.

In January 2020, I used "mastery grading" in a calculus course for the first time; since then -- partly influenced by the pandemic -- I've made significant changes in how I assess my students, moving to an approach centered on frequent, low-stakes assessments that afford students multiple opportunities. In this talk, I'll reflect a bit on what led me to this approach, the effect it has had on my teaching practice in the 2.5 years since, and share some specific examples of ways that differ from my prior work. Moreover, I'll share how this has changed my relationships with my students and how I think this has changed my students' learning and development. I plan to speak for about 25 minutes and then have time for conversation and discussion so that we can hear others' thoughts, experiences, questions, and more. I'll close by sharing some resources where you can learn more about new approaches to grading and assessment in mathematics.

May 4

Alternative Assessment in Linear Algebra
(MurphyKate Montee, Carleton)

Abstract: Assigned final grades is often one of the most fraught parts of teaching. No matter how you finesse your system, it's not uncommon to end up with students who receive a lower grade than they "deserve," and vice versa. And students are often unhappy about the grade that they receive, regardless of whether you think it is appropriate. And yet, it's also necessary - if only because of institutional requirements! In this talk I'll introduce an alternative assessment method - inspired by standards based grading and mastery based grading - that I've used in several introductory classes, which I have found takes some of the sting out of grading for myself and my students. I'll go through an in-depth example of how I use this in Linear Algebra, and I'll talk about the benefits (and drawbacks) that I and my students have seen from this system.

May 18

MAA Guide Discussion
(Charlie Cunningham, UChicago)

Abstract: We will be having a discussion on the MAA Instructional Practices Guide to finish up the quarter. Specifically, we will be covering sections AP.1 and AP.2 (Principles of Assessment and Formative Assessment Practices). As usual, it is not necessary to have completed the reading in order to attend.

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