Transforming Mathematics Pedagogy

By Pat Rogers

Listen to a woman groping for language in which to express what is on her mind, sensing that the terms of academic discourse are not her language, trying to cut down her thought to the dimensions of a discourse not intended for her." (1)

Pat Rogers
Pat Rogers

When the environment is genuinely open to and supportive of all students, women are just as successful at mathematics as men.

This paper is personal. It tells the story of my efforts to transform my teaming from practices whim silenced and Rogers disempowered my students to a pedagogy aimed at engaging them actively in the production of mathematical knowledge.

Reflecting on my own experiences in undergraduate mathematics and on doing mathematical research has been a forceful impetus for changing my own practice. More recently, however, my efforts have gained momentum from research which shows that it is possible for women to excel in mathematics taught by male teachers without experiencing the negative consequences of learning in a patriarchal environment (2). It shows that. when the style of teaching is true to the nature of mathematical inquiry and the environment is genuinely open to and supportive of all students, women are attracted to mathematics and are just as successful as men.

When I first started teaching I reproduced those practices I had observed as a student: I lectured. Believing that teaching at the post-secondary level involved the transmission of knowledge and insight from me (the "expert") to the students (the "novices"), I saw my job as "exposing" the students to the material of the course. I administered tests in order to measure achievement and to rank students in relation to their peers. Each class had a natural pattern: I introduced the topic, covered the blackboard with formulas and mathematical language, and worked a few problems. I asked some questions, and even elicited some answers (though usually from the same three of four-male--students) and assigned homework.

I was considered successful. In my course evaluations, students praised me for my enthusiasm, organization, the clarity of my exposition, my knowledge of the material and my accessibility. On the final examination many students failed or wrote such incomprehensible statements that I wondered if we had all been attending the same course. How could they do so badly when I had explained the material so well?

Transformer la pédagogie appliquée en mathématiques

Par Pat Rogers

Des récentes recherche indiquent que lorsque le mode d'enseignement ne trahit pas la nature de la recherche scientifique et que les éleves bénéficient d'un milieu vraiment ouvert et encourageant, les femmes sont autant attirées par les mathématiques que les hommes et qu'elles y réussissent aussi bien.

Une pédagogie qui met l'accent sur la réponse juste empêche les élèves de mettre en pratique le processus selon lequel les idées se forment. Les élèves qui ne voient que le produit poli ont peut être l'impression qu'ils ne pourront jamais créer des résultats semblables. Des méthodes autoritaires. comme les cours magistraux, subordonnent les connaissances et l'intelligence des élèves à celles du professeur ou du manuel scolaire.

Depuis quelque années je m'efforce d'appliquer une pédagogie qui incite activement les élèves à créer des idées. Mon objectif se divise en trois catégories: le contenu (aider les élèves à élaborer leurs propres preuves et à les rédiger correctement); processus (prendre de bonnes habitudes et travailler de manière autonome); et aspect social (communiquer clairement et avec confiance).

J' espère que les méthodes pédagogiques que j'ai mises au point permettront de dispenser à tous les étudiants et étudiantes un enseignement plus adéquate et plus egalitare.

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