Plenary Speaker Profile (2007)
Susan L. Forman
Professor of Mathematics
Bronx Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY
Putting the Cart Before the Horse: An analogy for mathematics instruction, with Solomon Garfunkel

With Solomon Garfunkle

Most mathematics textbooks and, hence, instructors, teach the tools of problem solving (filling students' carts) before making brief, if any, reference to the kinds of authentic problems those skills can be used to solve. Our presentation will put forward the notion that in an applications-based course, the driving force (the horse) is an interesting, authentic problem that will motivate students to learn the skills needed to solve the problem.

We will present examples of problems in mathematics and science that will challenge students and help them to understand the necessity of learning the requisite skills. Problems will be selected from both high school and college mathematics ranging from developmental mathematics through calculus and more advanced topics.

While on extended leave from the College Dr. Forman served as Senior Program Officer for Education at the Charles A. Dana Foundation (1995-97) and as Director of College and University Programs for the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Academy of Sciences (1992-95). Her previous experience includes positions as Coordinator of Academic Computing at The City University of New York and Program Officer at the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

She has been a co-Principal Investigator on several NSF grants, including five from the Advanced Technological Education program, and has authored and co-authored a number of articles about the role of mathematics in the education of future technicians. Dr. Forman served as First Vice-President of the Mathematical Association of America (1992-94) and President of the New York State Mathematics Association of Two-Year Colleges (1985-86), as well as Chair of the Metropolitan Section of the Mathematical Association of America (1996-1998). She earned her PhD in mathematics education and research at Columbia University.