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Keynote Abstracts

  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Carol Robinson (Loughborough University)
    Title: Initiatives to engage engineering students in their learning of mathematics.
    Abstract: In recent years concern has been expressed about the level of student engagement in the learning of mathematics at university. There can be a wide variation in the level of prior knowledge of students and many students do not appreciate the importance of mathematics for their course. Often they are taught in large classes and poor attendance at lectures and tutorials is not uncommon. Universities are finding that they have to look at ways of addressing the issues of how to motivate and assist such students in their learning of mathematics.
    This presentation will describe some of the initiatives introduced in the teaching of mathematics to engineering students at Loughborough University, which has one of the largest cohorts of engineering students (over 3000 undergraduates) in the UK. The author leads a department which oversees the development and delivery of most of the teaching of mathematics and statistics to engineering students. Innovative teaching methods are used extensively, with the aim of ensuring the very best environment for students to learn, and teaching is underpinned with a rigorous research agenda. Initiatives introduced include: • the use of computer-aided assessment – to monitor and pace student learning • the use of electronic voting systems - to enhance in-class engagement • applications from the world of sport - to motivate the learning of mathematics • the use of computer software (e.g. Matlab and Geogebra) - to enable more realistic problems to be solved, to provide challenge, to enhance conceptual understanding • the teaching of mathematics in context – to motivate students, prepare them for employment , to provide a link to the students’ own discipline In the presentation, the implementation and evaluation of some of the initiatives will be described. Perhaps not surprisingly, we find that many of these initiatives have solved the problem they were designed to address (e.g. CAA gets students working throughout the term rather than just before the exam), but other issues have then come to the fore. In the case of CAA, we find that restrictions of the system mean that the type of question which can be asked may lead only to procedural as opposed to conceptual understanding. I will thus present an overview of the some of the issues to be considered when implementing new initiatives and where at Loughborough University we currently are in facing the challenges of teaching service mathematics.
  • Keynote Speaker: Hugh McManus (State Examinations Commission)
    Title: Measuring Mathematics Achievement in the Context of Project Maths.
    Abstract: Conference attendees will already be aware of Project Maths, the government initiative that aims to significantly improve the way that second-level students in Ireland learn mathematics. In the context of this initiative, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) is responsible for implementing examinations that properly reward the learning outcomes specified in the revised syllabi. In doing so, these examinations should reflect the aims of those syllabi and support the recommended teaching and learning methodologies. As Chief Examiner for Leaving Certificate Mathematics, the presenter has been responsible for developing these examinations, in consultation with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department of Education and Skills. In this presentation, the key assessment principles that underpin the work of the SEC will be outlined, along with the procedures used to ensure their application, with a particular focus on Project Maths. Consideration will also be given to some changes that might be anticipated in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of students as a result of the initiative. It is hoped that the presentation will prompt participants to consider two things: 1. Whether the assessment ideas and practices outlined could bring any additional value to their own work at third level, and 2. How the anticipated changes to the experiences of their incoming first-year students might affect the planning and delivery of service and other courses in mathematics and statistics.
  • Keynote Speaker: Professor John O'Donoghue (UL and NCE-MSTL)
    Title: Another look at service mathematics teaching and learning.
    Abstract: Service mathematics teaching is a very significant enterprise in size and importance in the Irish HE sector. As such one would expect to find a significant body of research to support work in this area. However, this is not the case as a quick online search will confirm. Thus it is fair to conclude that service mathematics as an area of interest is under-researched and under-theorised. This is somewhat perplexing given the fact that service mathematics teaching is directly implicated in Ireland’s ‘mathematics problem’. The absence of research in this area suggests that service mathematics is mainly practice-driven.
    In this paper the author uses multiple lenses as an intellectual tool to re-visit some old ideas and generate some new insights into service mathematics teaching and learning as an area worthy of attention in its own right. Service mathematics is viewed through a number of lenses to see what each can contribute to our understanding of service mathematics teaching and its associated practice (s). The lenses used are based on mathematics as a discipline, mathematics education, knowledge types, and methodology.
  • Keynote Speaker: Professor Adrian Oldknow
    Title: GeoGebra - a vehicle for STEM.
    Abstract: Ireland, along with many other countries, now recognises the need to encourage more students to pursue careers involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM/MST) – and hence to engage their interest. One current UK example is the education programme around the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car, due to attempt a new world land speed record of over 1000 mph (1600 kph) in Spring 2013: I will give examples of how various features of the latest version of GeoGebra can be used to support STEM activities and to stimulate students and teachers. These include: • analysis of data captured from video clips of objects in motion • data captured from experiments using a variety of sensors • mathematical modelling of dynamic processes • geometry and algebra used to model aspects of photographs • visualisation, modelling and creation of objects in 3D. Educational implications for pedagogy and curriculum design will also be considered.
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Balazs Koren
    Title: Developments in GeoGebra in the past twelve months.
    Abstract: An overview of what has happened in the GeoGebra Community in the last year.
    Software In 2011 version 4 was released. GeoGebraTube started in September 2011. We reached 5000 uploaded materials in March 2012, and we have over 8000 in May. After the release of version 4, the development of version 4.2 and 5.0 started. Great new features were included in the ready-to-test beta versions, as CAS in version 4.2 and real 3D in 5.0.
    Community In 2011 we had 65 Institutes, in May 2012 we celebrate the establishment of the 100th GeoGebra Institute. Over 6 Million people downloaded the software in 2011. Huge numbers, a fast growing community. What is your role in this big family? How can the community help you, how can you help the community?