SUTMEG Seminar

The Sydney University Tertiary Mathematics Education Group will hold a seminar on the morning of Tuesday 6 December 2005, in Carslaw Lecture Theatre 173.

The two speakers will be

  • Deborah Hughes Hallett (University of Arizona and Harvard University),
  • David Easdown (University of Sydney).
Registration and coffee from 9:45 am; first talk 10:00 am to 10:45am; second talk 10:45 am to 11:30 am.

Light refreshments will be provided at the conclusion of the talks.

Calculus: where have we been and where are we going?

Speaker: Deborah Hughes Hallett
Location: Carslaw 173
Time: 10:00 am, Tuesday December 6.

In this talk we will look at how the teaching of calculus has changed over the last decade and consider the challenges of the future. Questions to be addressed may include: How do we make our calculus courses good preparation for futher mathematics, for engineering, for other sciences? What place does technology have in the teaching of calculus? What is the correct balance between theory and applications, between rigour and problem-solving, between conceptual understanding and drill? With contributions from the audience, we will compare the perspective of the US and Australia on these questions.

Teaching mathematics: the gulf between semantics (meaning) and syntax (form)

Speaker: David Easdown
Location: Carslaw 173
Time: 10:45 am, Tuesday December 6.

Why do students have trouble following an undergraduate mathematics lecture? Why are mathematical seminars frequently difficult to comprehend, even for seasoned researchers? Simplistic answers are that the speaker moves too fast, or assumes too much, or confuses the audience by being inaccurate. But in actual fact, slowing down, or devoting more time to background, or being more careful about accuracy, are in themselves no guarantee that the talk or lecture will become more comprehensible. There seem to be deeper issues at stake, which strike at the heart of what we understand by knowledge and its representation using language.