Starting in 2008, the UBC Mathematics Department is participating in the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) to improve undergraduate science education. In 2010 the Math-CWSEI program has undergone a major expansion thanks to the generous donation by Prof. David Cheriton, UBC alumnus, now Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Instructors who participate in the project should review the Course Transformation Expectations document which outlines the specific tasks to be completed and the expected timeline for completion.

An important first step for the Math CWSEI in all the courses involved in the project is to write down a set of learning goals. Learning goals (also called "learning outcomes" or "learning objectives") make explicit what the students are expected to be able to do at each stage of the course. They are useful to instructors in preparing tests, and assessing the success of a course. In lower level courses, where the students and instructors may start out thinking about the material in radically different ways, learning goals can help to focus the instruction at the appropriate level. They provide a communication channel for successive intructors in a given course, so that effort in improving paedagogy is transmitted. Made available to students, they help students assess their understanding and to prepare for exams. The learning goals developed by the Math CWSEI team will be posted below as they are completed. Other examples of learning goals can be found here.

An important last step for all the projects in the Math CWSEI is the archiving of materials in the SEI Course Materials Archive. This archive contains material developed by departments participating in the CWSEI at UBC, and is intended to be an open resource for educators.

A listing of the projects currently involved with the Math CWSEI, indicating the degree of completion and with links to relevant documents, is given in the links below. This list will be updated as the projects progress.



In 2008-2009 our projects were concentrated in two areas.

The first area was computing and computer labs in a number of applied courses (Math 152, Math 256/Mech 221, Math 257/316, Math 253/Mech 222, Math 307). These courses had all recently introduced computing as an intrinsic part of the syllabus. The Math CWSEI helped in the creation of tutorials and lab materials, assisted in integrating the computational component into the course material and developing testing methods, and assessed the effectiveness of the computational component.

The second area was support for the Math 180/184 workshop program and the Basic Skills Test. The problem-solving workshops in Math 180 and Math 184 were originally introduced as a pilot project in a single section of each course. After some experimentation, in 2008 the program was extended to all sections, resulting in new challenges in course management and coordination. The Math CWSEI helped to assess the effectiveness of the program in such large, multi-section courses, and contributed to the development of effective program management strategies. The Basic Skills Test was first developed by our department in 2007, and subsequent revisions based on results from a statistical analysis were completed in 2008 and 2009. The Math CWSEI assisted in the test analysis and the study of how well it predicts success in a first-year Calculus course.

In 2009-2010 our focus was mainly in-depth assessment of student activities and engagement, improvements to course materials based on data collected in the previous year, and better coordination of workshops and labs with course lectures. The Math CWSEI also provided support for the development of a new computing module in Math 318.

In 2010, following the generous donation by Prof. David Cheriton, the Math CWSEI expanded to incorporate new, longer term projects, mostly involving tracking and improving key skills throughout the curriculum. Projects are now underway to assess and track proof skills, basic algebra skills, and student attitudes and perceptions of mathematics. The Math CWSEI also continues to support the implementation of effective teaching methods and use of classroom technologies (clickers, online homework, etc.).


People and Courses


Math CWSEI Group

Costanza Piccolo

Math CWSEI Director

Sandra Merchant

Math CWSEI Assistant Director and Chief Science Teaching and Learning Fellow (STLF)

Kseniya Garaschuk

Science Teaching and Learning Fellow (STLF)

Wes Maciejewski

Science Teaching and Learning Fellow (STLF)



Eric Cytrynbaum

Math 102 Differential Calculus with applications to Life Sciences &
Math 256 Differential Equations

Leah Keshet

Math 102 Differential Calculus with applications to Life Sciences

Young-Heon Kim

Math 121 Honours Integral Calculus (WeBWorK)

Mark MacLean

Assessing Basic Algebra Skills

Brian Marcus

Math 342 Algebra Coding Theory and Cryptography (Tracking Proof Skills)

Greg Martin

Math 101 Integral Calculus with Applications to Physical Sciences and Engineering

Costanza Piccolo

Math 110 Differential Calculus

Andrew Rechnitzer

Math 220 Mathematical Proof (Tracking Proof Skills)


Postdocs and Sessionals

Chia Lee

Math 184 Differential Calculus for Social Science and Commerce


Previous years


On-going Projects

Math 101 Integral Calculus with Applications to Physical Sciences and Engineering

Math 102/103 Differential and Integral Calculus with Applications to Life Sciences

Math 110 Differential Calculus

Math 184 Differential Calculus for Social Science and Commerce

Math 256 Differential Equations

Tracking Proof Skills through the curriculum

Assessing Basic Algebra Skills of incoming students

Tracking Infinite Series Skills through the curriculum

Online Homework in WeBWorK

Math Attitudes and Perceptions Survey (MAPS)


Completed Projects

Math 104 Differential Calculus with Applications to Commerce and Social Sciences

Math 152 Linear Systems

Math 180 Differential Calculus Workshops

Math 184 Differential Calculus Workshops

Math 200 Calculus III

Math 210 Introduction to Mathematical Computing

Math 220 Mathematical Proof

Math 230 Introduction to Finite Mathematics

Math 253 - Mech 222 Multivariable Calculus

Math 256 - Mech 221 Differential Equations

Math 257/316 Partial Differential Equations

Math 264 Vector Calculus for Electrical Engineering

Math 300/305 Complex Analysis/Applied Complex Analysis

Math 307 Applied Linear Algebra

Math 318 Probability with Physical Applications

Math 358 Engineering Analysis

Math 360 Mathematical Models in Science


Other Activities

Lunch Series on Teaching and Learning

Math Reading Group


Progress Reports

2014-2015 STLF Progress Reports

2013-2014 STLF Progress Reports

2012-2013 STLF Progress Reports
November 2012: End-of-year Report

2011-2012 STLF Progress Reports
November 2011: End-of-year Report

2010-2011 STLF Progress Reports

November 2010: End-of-year Report
June 2010: Mid-year Report

2009-2010 STLF Progress Reports

2008-2009 STLF Progress Reports