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SFU mathematics instructors will have prominent roles at CMS summer meeting

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Two senior lecturers in SFU’s Department of Mathematics will deliver prize lectures at the summer meeting of the Canadian Mathematical Society in Regina, Saskatchewan, in June.

Veselin Jungic on blended learning

Veselin JungicThe first is Veselin Jungic, who will receive the society’s 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award for “sustained and distinguished contributions in mathematics teaching at the undergraduate level at a Canadian post-secondary education institution.”

Besides being deputy director of the Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Centre (IRMACS), Jungic teaches a number of courses, including introductory calculus courses with more than 500 students. He also conducts research on methods and techniques for teaching large classes and has written research papers on the subject. He frequently incorporates online assignments and pioneered the use of Lon-CAPA, an online course management system, for mathematics courses at SFU.

Jungic was instrumental in the development of many of SFU’s outreach programs, including the “A Taste of Pi” program, which features enrichment activities for high school students, and the Math Student Ambassador Program, which connects SFU student volunteers with high schools to speak to students about pursuing university mathematics. In addition to his work with university and high school students, Veselin regularly teaches basic courses in mathematics to adult learners, including students in the SFU Liberal and Business Studies program and First Nations individuals who did not complete secondary education.

Jungic will deliver a prize lecture on “The Blended Learning Approach to Teaching a Calculus Class: What May Change and What Should Stay the Same.” His presentation will examine some general facts about blended learning – which he suggests can be described as an integration of “seemingly opposite approaches, such as formal and informal learning, face-to-face and online experiences, directed paths and reliance on self-direction” – and will analyze the use of the approach for various university-level science classes. Finally, he will discuss an ongoing attempt to introduce the blended learning approach to teaching calculus classes at SFU.

Malgorzata Dubiel on teaching the teachers

Malgorzata DubielThe second senior lecturer is Malgorzata Dubiel, who in December received the society’s 2011 Adrien Pouliot Award for “individuals or teams of individuals who have made significant and sustained contributions to mathematics education in Canada.”

Dubiel will deliver a prize lecture on “Mathematics for Elementary Teachers: The Most Important Course You Can Teach?” In her abstract, Dubiel notes that the presentation will consider the evolution of SFU’s MATH 190 Mathematics for Elementary Teachers course, “its influence on similar courses at other B.C. institutions, and its influence on our enrichment programs.” Given that many students aiming for careers as elementary school teachers lack confidence in their ability to teach math and often dislike the subject, and given research findings that suggest people form lasting attitudes towards math by the end of grade 5, Dubiel asks, “Shouldn’t we be investing more into educating those who have a crucial role in introducing the next generation to mathematics?”

Learn more about Veselin Jungic and Malgorzata Dubiel:

Veselin Jungic’s faculty profile page: www.math.sfu.ca/people/staff/faculty/veselin_jungic

Veselin Jungic’s personal website: people.math.sfu.ca/~vjungic/

Malgorzata Dubiel’s faculty profile page: www.math.sfu.ca/people/staff/faculty/Malgorzata_dubiel

Register now for the TLC’s upcoming workshops on teaching large classes!

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

If you’re a regular reader of the Teaching and Learning News (and really, who among you isn’t?) you’ll know that an important aspect of the TLC’s programming focuses on teaching large classes. At the beginning of February, the TLC hosted two conversations on teaching large classes in which faculty panellists discussed the importance of bringing passion to their teaching, incorporating storytelling and other personal touches, and demonstrating respect for students.

In March, we will be moving forward from these conversations to present three workshops on teaching large classes. These workshops are based on the issues, questions, and themes that members of the SFU teaching and learning community have raised. We can’t say enough about the faculty members who are leading these events; their experience, knowledge, and commitment to developing new practices related to teaching large classes is apparent in their work. (more…)

Panellists cite passion as key factor for successfully teaching large classes

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Most of us have been confronted with the challenges large classes present.  Students worry that they are not receiving the attention they require, while instructors point to issues of communication, engagement, classroom management, and assessment as problems stemming from larger classes.  These issues were among the four themes of two conversations on teaching large classes that took place last week at the Burnaby and Surrey campuses and were organized by Teaching and Learning Centre staff.

During the conversations, five SFU instructors, Russell Day, Chantal Gibson, Veselin Jungic, Richard Smith, and Jeff Sugarman, shared their thoughts, suggestions, and advice on teaching large classes. Again and again, we heard panellists and participants alike underlining the need for instructors to bring passion to their teaching, in addition to their knowledge, energy, and skills.  Jeff Sugarman noted this consistency among the participants, remarking that the majority seemed to have similar opinions on teaching large classes and have encountered similar circumstances, despite broad differences in subject matter.

Another idea that kept popping up was the importance of storytelling.  Panellists generally agreed that storytelling can be useful both to engage with students, but also to give them a little insight into who you are.  Anecdotes are among the tools our panellists used to demonstrate their commitment to genuine and transparent interaction with students.  Chantal Gibson drove this point home when she said that, “the best teachers I have had were all great storytellers.” (more…)