12 October 2018: Seminar by Associate Professor Sergiy Klymchuk, AUT, "Provocative Mathematics Questions: Drawing Attention to a Lack of Attention"

Provocative Mathematics Questions: Drawing Attention to a Lack of Attention

Speaker: Associate Professor Sergiy Klymchuk, Auckland University of Technology
Date: 12 October (Friday)
Time: 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Location: Building 303, Room 102 (MLT2), Faculty of Science, The University of Auckland
The talk is on the role of attention in the reflective thinking of school mathematics teachers. It analyses teachers’ ability to pay attention to detail and use their mathematical knowledge. The vast majority of teachers can be expected to have an excellent knowledge of mathematical techniques. The question examined here is whether this kind of knowledge might structure their attention in such a way that the emphasis on procedures deflects their attention from the essential details. Five groups of participant teachers from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Germany and Ukraine were given a mini-test containing seven simple mathematics questions. Most questions in the test were provocative in the sense that they looked like routine questions but in fact had some catch. The results of the test were startling - the vast majority of the participants gave incorrect answers to most questions in the test. After the test, the participants were given a short questionnaire to reflect on their performance on the test. Their responses were analysed using the theories of selective, divided and focused attention and Mason’s concept of the discipline of noticing. Implementations of the results of the study in assessment and professional development are discussed.
Speaker’s Bio
Sergiy Klymchuk is an Associate Professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and Director of the STEM Tertiary Education Centre at AUT. He has been teaching university mathematics since 1980. His PhD (1988) was in applied mathematics and recent research interests are in mathematics education. He is an author of more than 200 publications including the Counterexamples in Calculus book that received an Outstanding Academic Title Award from the Choice magazine of the American Library Association in 2010, Paradoxes and Sophisms in Calculus book that made the cover of the 2014 Publications Catalogue of the Mathematical Association of America, and Money Puzzles book on popular mathematics that has been published in nine countries.