Featured Instructor: Derek Postnikoff

Course Innovation Community CIC 2019

Derek Postnikoff, Lecturer

Faculty Member in Mathematics & Statistics

Sessional Lecturer in Philosophy

Derek teaches Math 100, Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers, to a class of 85 students. By participating in CIC, he was able to attend two math education conferences: First Year Math and Stats in Canada in May 2019 and Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group in June 2019. Both of these events provided him with many specific ideas for themes and activities to incorporate in MATH 100. He is planning to use what remains of his CIC funding to attend both of these conferences again this year.

Image provided by Derek

Some of his struggles were that physical spaces for large classes are not conducive to active learning. Also, students in this course have a wide range of skills and knowledge of mathematics from secondary school (some have calculus, some have difficulty multiplying integers).

However, a great success was organizing ‘halftime’ or midterm meetings one-on-one with each student in lieu of a written exam. This allowed for greater interaction and formative feedback for both him and the student. Even with 80 students, these meetings took the same amount of time that would have been required for marking a traditional midterm exam.

In his own words:

“The supports that the CIC provided – instruction, a cohort of peers, and funding – helped accelerate the innovation process I had undertaken independently several years earlier.

◈ Training sessions reinforced familiar best practices as well as introducing new ideas and techniques. The structure this training provided helped focus and strengthen my course development.

◈ One-on-one discussions with each of the CIC instructors generated helpful suggestions and sympathetic encouragement.

◈ Innovating alongside the rest of the CIC cohort provided useful perspective and motivation, drawing into focus the commonalities and differences in the instructional challenges we face.

◈ Bespoke feedback from my CIC partner provided valuable insights into my classroom dynamic.

◈ Funding made it possible for me to draw inspiration and discipline-specific ideas from interactions with an international community of like-minded math educators.”