tisdag 26 november 2013

A History of BodyandSoul at Chalmers

Some of the history of the BodyandSoul mathematics education reform project at Chalmers 2000-2007 is documented in the following conference presentations by Stig Larsson, who participated in the project:
  1. Stig Larsson,
    A reformed mathematics education at Chalmers,
    Högskoleverkets kvalitetskonferens, Norrköping, September 25-27, 2001.
  2. K. Eriksson, N. Ericsson and S. Larsson,
    Integration of chemistry in math courses,
    Chalmers Strategic Effort on Learning and Teaching C-SELT,
    Conference at Lingatan, August 13-15, 2002.
  3. C. Niklasson, M. Christie, S. Larsson, L. Öhrström, and J. Bowden,
    Integration of Mathematics/Numerical Analysis with Chemistry/Chemical Engineering,
    preprint 2003.
  4. L. Öhrström, G. Svensson, S. Larsson, M. Christie, and C. Niklasson,
    The pedagogical implications of using Matlab in integrated chemistry and mathematics courses,
    Int. J. Engrg. Education 21 (2005), no. 4, 683-691. (abstractpdf)
  5. M. Enelund and S. Larsson,
    Development of a new computational mathematics education for the mechanical engineering program at Chalmers University of Technology,
    Second International CDIO Conference, Linköping University, June 13-14, 2006.
  6. M. Enelund and S. Larsson,
    A computational mathematics education for students of mechanical engineering,
    World Transactions on Engineering and Technology Education 5 (2006), no. 2, 329-332.
  7. M. Enelund, H. Johansson och S. Larsson,
    Beräkningsinriktad matematikutbildning för maskinteknikprogrammet på Chalmers,
    Utvecklingskonferensen för ingenjörsutbildning 2008, KTH, Stockholm, 26-27 november 2008.
  8. M. Enelund, S. Larsson, and J. Malmqvist,
    Integration of a computational mathematics education in the mechanical engineering curriculum,
    Proceedings of the 7th International CDIO Conference, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, June 20 - 23, 2011.
Here are some key quotations from 1. - 8. describing in particular the presence and absence of the BodyandSoul book:

  • A full program for a new reformed engineering mathematics education has been developed by K. Eriksson, C. Johnson, Chalmers University of Technology, and D. Estep, Colorado State University. The program includes the books Computational Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press 1996, and Applied Mathematics — Body and Soul, to appear at Springer-Verlag, and various pieces of supporting software. 
  • The full program covering the basic mathematics courses of 25–30 credit points has been implemented at Chalmers since 1999 for a group of 90 students in the “Bio Engineering” (Kb) and “Chemical Engineering with Engineering Physics”  (Kf) programs and has been extended to include also the “Chemical Engineering” (K) program with a total of 160 students 2001. 
  • The implementation of the reform program... is carried out in a cooperative effort of the mathematicians M. Asadzadeh, K. Eriksson, C. Johnson, S. Larsson, M. Larson, K. Samuelsson, and N. Svanstedt at Chalmers University of Technology. 
  • A basic idea of the reformed math program, delivered by the Department of Computational Mathematics at Chalmers, is a full integration of the “body” and “soul” aspects of mathematics, that is of the concrete/computational/numerical parts representing the “body”, including programming, and the abstract/analytical/symbolic aspects representing the “soul”.
  • (Remark: No reference to the upcoming BodyandSoul book)
  • In this paper, we examine how changes in mathematics education with integration into engineering subjects influence the different teaching and learning methods for subsequent subjects in the chemical engineering programs at Chalmers. 
  • Material for the first courses has been developed in a new textbook (BodyandSoul).
  • The last years the undergraduate chemistry and mathematics courses at Chalmers University of Technology has undergone a major curriculum reform.
  • As textbook in mathematics we use a new book (BodyandSoul) written especially for this approach to teaching and learning mathematics at a technical university.
5. and 6.(2006):
  • .... new mathematics courses for the engineering education have been developed at Chalmers and implemented in the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programs since 1999. These courses emphasize mathematical modeling, simulation, the use of modern computational tools, and interaction with courses in chemistry and chemical engineering. This is achieved by taking a computational (constructive) approach to the teaching of mathematics.
  • This approach is based on the textbook Applied Mathematics BodyandSoul and has been implemented since 1999 in the Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering programs at Chalmers University [2]. However, the book (BodyandSoul) has proved to be somewhat too difficult for the students and we plan to use traditional textbooks complemented by lecture notes.
  • Här presenterar vi en reformerad matematik-utbildning. I den reformerade matematikutbildningen integreras traditionell symbolisk matematik med numeriska beräkningar och datorn används som ett verktyg. 
  • Erfarenheterna är mycket positiva. 
  • (Remark: No reference to BodyandSoul)
  • Here we present the integration of a computationally oriented mathematics education into the CDIO-based MSc program in mechanical engineering at Chalmers. We found that the CDIO-approach was beneficial when designing a reformed mathematics education and integrating the mathematics in the curriculum. 
  • In the reform of the mathematics education, traditional symbolic mathematics is integrated with numerical calculations and the computer is used as a tool. 
  • The experience is very positive. 
  • (Remark: No reference to BodyandSoul)
We see that the BodyandSoul book was used 2000-2006 as the basic text defining a new reformed mathematics program, which is presented to the world at several national and international conferences.  We know that BodyandSoul was replaced 2007 by a traditional book (Calculus: A Complete Course by Adams and Essex) not connected to the reform, complemented by lecture notes in the form of Beräkningsmekanik, which is a translation into Swedish of a couple of introductory chapters of BodyandSoul with reference reduced to a source of "inspiration". 

We see that the experience of the reform is very positive and that the reason BodyandSoul was replaced by a traditional book with no connection to reform, is stated to be that BodyandSoul  "proved to be somewhat too difficult for the students".

PS1  For his reform work Stig Larsson has been awarded several prizes at Chalmers:
  • Ansvarig matematiklärare, professor Stig Larsson, tilldelades Maskinteknikprogrammets pedagogiska pris för sina insatser för utvecklandet och genomförandet av matematikkurserna. Priset baseras på en omröstning bland studenterna. Stig erhöll även Chalmers pedagogiska pris 2008 för sitt arbete med att integrera matematikämnet i ingenjörsämnet”. Pristagarna utses av en jury. Studenternas sammanfattande betyg på matematikkurserna har för alla kurser legat över fyra på en femgradig skala och slutsatsen är att studenterna är mycket positiva till kurserna och genomförandet.

I have asked Stig Larsson if a "somewhat less difficult" version of BodyandSoul according to specification by Chalmers might be of interest as a possible replacement of the traditional text book by Adams, which has little connection to reform, which I could deliver free of charge and save the students  some couple of hundred dollars. I will report the reaction from Stig when (if) it arrives.

PS2 Mikael Enelund is main responsible for the Engineering Mechanics program at Chalmers "buying" the math reform program from the Math Department and Stig Larsson. Enelund says that he relies 100% on the judgement of the Math Department selling/delivering the courses of the reform program, and then voices the widely spread conviction among non-professional mathematicians, that mathematics can only be understood by professional mathematicians, as an effect of traditional mathematics education. Enelund is thus in principle main responsible as buyer, but has translated the responsibility entirely to the math department as seller.

It is thus impossible for Enelund to ask himself how it is possible to use a fully traditional text book like Adams as basic text in a reform program with a fundamentally non-traditional scope and approach? If Enelund had only taken the reform program he would have understood that mathematics can be understood also by non-professional mathematicians and then he would have had the courage to ask the question.  But....

PS3 But why bother? Are we not discussing trivialities? Who cares about basic math eduction, really? Not professors of mathematics anyway, since they consider teaching Calculus to be a triviality better left to underpaid instructors ordered to use some traditional American text book, year after year delivering a steady income to the professors.

But basic math education at a technical university like Chalmers sets the standard for the whole education, and if the math education is antiquated so will the entire engineering education be. So math education is important but the debate is dead and the progress is zero. Or backwards, as when BodyandSoul was replaced by Adams at Chalmers in 2007.   

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