Proposal Title

Learning Mathematics within an Interdisciplinary Science Program

Session Type

Presentation

Room

PAB 148

Start Date

10-7-2013 10:30 AM

Keywords

interdisciplinary science, learning, mathematics, understanding

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

*** University’s Interdisciplinary Science (iSci) program has been designed to “put into practice many of the innovative concepts linking science education and science research” with the aim to present a “holistic view of science through the interaction between various science disciplines.” This four-year program “provides students with an opportunity to specialize in a selected discipline including chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, […].” In the first year of the iSci program, within a single course (which carries 80% of the full first-year course load) students study five science subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science). I have been teaching mathematics in the iSci program since its inception. Going beyond anecdotes and personal experiences, I have been asking myself — What is the impact of this interdisciplinary approach on learning mathematics? Do students know and understand mathematics better? In what sense are they different from the students who do not have similar experiences? These questions (and others) helped me form a research goal — to determine whether (or not) the rich environment within the iSci program enhances learning mathematics, both in terms of content knowledge (functions of one variable, power series and differential equations) and skills (formation of a precise mathematical argument, problem-solving, communication of scientific ideas, etc.). I plan to discuss results and analyze students’ replies to the survey I conducted, which lead to some (perhaps) surprising conclusions.

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Jul 10th, 10:30 AM

Learning Mathematics within an Interdisciplinary Science Program

PAB 148

*** University’s Interdisciplinary Science (iSci) program has been designed to “put into practice many of the innovative concepts linking science education and science research” with the aim to present a “holistic view of science through the interaction between various science disciplines.” This four-year program “provides students with an opportunity to specialize in a selected discipline including chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, […].” In the first year of the iSci program, within a single course (which carries 80% of the full first-year course load) students study five science subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and earth science). I have been teaching mathematics in the iSci program since its inception. Going beyond anecdotes and personal experiences, I have been asking myself — What is the impact of this interdisciplinary approach on learning mathematics? Do students know and understand mathematics better? In what sense are they different from the students who do not have similar experiences? These questions (and others) helped me form a research goal — to determine whether (or not) the rich environment within the iSci program enhances learning mathematics, both in terms of content knowledge (functions of one variable, power series and differential equations) and skills (formation of a precise mathematical argument, problem-solving, communication of scientific ideas, etc.). I plan to discuss results and analyze students’ replies to the survey I conducted, which lead to some (perhaps) surprising conclusions.