DECEMBER 07, 2015 Mariya Boyko

EXAMINING MATHEMATICS IN A WIDER CONTEXT BY TAKING INTO ACCOUNT ALL STEM DISCIPLINES, AT THE CANADIAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE, MONTREAL, CANADA

blog_01The Canadian Mathematical Society is the largest conference in the country that is dedicated to mathematics and math education. This conference brings together specialists from all over the world and consists of specialized sessions and plenary lectures that are followed by an extended discussion.


It was great to meet specialists who take interest in math education at the post-secondary level, with a focus on students who have just transitioned into a post-secondary institution from high school.


The vast majority of plenary lectures and specialized lectures included connections to teaching various mathematical concepts. Highlights included teaching mathematical concepts while including their historical context, constructing mathematics courses and finding optimal ways to present the material, and the role of mathematics education for engineering students.


For example, one of the lectures focused on various ways of teaching students, of different ages, about the origins of the Pythagoras Theorem and multiple ways of proving it. It was suggested that students should be presented with excerpts from Euclid’s original text of the book “Elements” and explore his ways of presenting the material of lines, points, measurements, etc. This would help students understand the context in which the need for the Pythagoras Theorem arises, hence, they would develop a stronger grasp on the concept of triangles, and on the idea of providing a concise proof of a mathematical concept.


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Many specialists stated that the key for constructing an effective course is the establishment of high academic expectations while spending plenty of time on the basics. However, others stated that independent learning should be the crux of an effective course, and that the students should be able to catch up on the basic concepts in their own time. In this case, class time would be used for discussions of advanced concepts and applications of the material. These discussions, in particular, were interesting as it made clear the importance of our interactive technology platform – Elevate My Math that is being used at many post-secondary institutions to provide educators with the option to either spend time on foundational math concepts in class or allow students to independently upgrade their skills in their own time while staying on track with what is being taught in class.


Many sessions were also intended to demonstrate the connection of mathematics to other disciplines such as health sciences, biology, physics and computer science. The speakers emphasised that mathematics must be examined in wider academic context while taking into account all the STEM disciplines as well as life sciences.


Overall, the conference was a valuable venue to connect with educators who share similar visions as us in helping students succeed by strengthening their foundational skills and also connecting mathematics to practical applications.


Mariya Boyko

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