Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is this program about

York University has an active part-time M.A. program especially designed for teachers. We welcome in particular students who have been away from formal schooling for some years. We recognize that teachers interested in this program may have completed their university studies some time ago, and our courses have been designed to take this into account. This program has been in existence since 1975. Peter Gibson, Jane Heffernan, Stan Kochman, Martin Muldoon, Margaret Sinclair, Juris Steprans, Paul Szeptycki, Byron Wall, Walter Whiteley, Augustine Wong, Mike Zabrocki and Hongmei Zhu are among its recent teaching staff.

The program focuses on giving students an exposure to a variety of mathematical subjects providing to those that are teachers a broader experience that they can bring to their own classrooms. The range of this program gives students an historic perspective as well as chances to practice techniques of problem solving, writing and presenting mathematics. These elements are relevant for teachers of mathematics at any level. This program does not prepare students for study at the Ph.D. level in mathematics nor does it lead to teacher certification in Ontario. Courses in the program will be scheduled in the evenings, usually with a three-hour session once a week for a course in the Fall-Winter term, and two three-hour sessions per course in the Summer term. Ordinarily, two courses are offered in the Fall-Winter session and one course in the Summer session.


  1. Does this description accurately reflect the reality of this program? Discuss!

  2. I see this program as attempting to meet the needs of two groups of students:

    a) Those teachers who are interested in taking it primarily to further themselves professionally. This group may be more interested in focussing on topics directly related to math education in Ontario, and taking the EDUC electives. They are disappointed by the lack of ‘math’ emphasis in M.Ed. programs, and see this program as an alternative. Some enrol in this program since having a Master’s degree is one favoured route towards an administrative position (be that Department Head, VP or Principal). Others have ambitions of continuing on to PhD work in math education and/or leadership in math education at the provincial level.

    b) Those who are interested in taking it primarily for personal development reasons. This group would tend to prefer more of a traditional mathematics focus in the elective courses. Some enrol because this is the only option in this province for earning a Master’s degree in math, while continuing to teach or work full-time during the day. There may be concerns that their previous math background is insufficient or from too long ago to enrol in a regular Master's in math. Others may simply want to challenge themselves mathematically, studying new topics or branches of math they weren’t exposed to in their undergrad. days or revisiting old topics from an new (& more mature) perspective.

    Question: Is it possible in a small program like this to adequately meet the needs of both of these groups?

  3. Good point Alice. There may be even people outside these groups taking this degree but these seem to summarize the two types of motivations I have gleaned from students in the program.

    I think that that for some in group (a) the M.A. degree alone may not meet their needs. This degree can be a stepping stone and along with the diploma program we do try to appeal to both.