On Tuesday the 5th of December, it was announced at the 2018 meeting for the Australian Mathematical Society that Glen Wheeler, currently a Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics in the Faculty for Engineering and Information Sciences, has secured the Australian Mathematical Society 2018 Award for Teaching Excellence (Early Career).
After graduating from his PhD in 2010, Glen was awarded research fellowships by the Deutsche Akademischer Austausch Dienst and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation to work at the Freie Universitaet in Berlin, and the Otto-von-Guericke Universitaet in Magdeburg, Germany. In 2012 he returned to a position of Research Associate at the University of Wollongong and was promoted to Lecturer in 2015.
Glen has led the transformation of the curriculum at UoW, designing a three-year mathematics program that is cohesive and well-motivated, not only in terms of content and progression, but importantly in terms of developing communication skills, capacity for self-directed investigation and learning, and teamwork skills. The curriculum transformation process has been transparent and collaborative, incorporating work from many members of the school since 2015.
Glen developed the subject MATH100, ‘First Year Experience in Mathematics’, a flagship of the new curriculum. Delivered for the first time in Autumn 2018, Glen coordinated the MATH100 teaching team consisting of Dr Maureen Edwards, Dr Carole Birrell, Ms Thalia Wilson, and Mr Ankit Shrestha. MATH100 gives students a first taste of what it is to be a mathematician — not just calculations and techniques, but the experience of encountering, analysing and answering a question, and effectively communicating their solution, all in collaboration with other mathematicians and through reference to mathematical literature. Head of School, Aidan Sims, called it ‘a remarkably powerful approach to inducting students into a mathematics degree’.
Here at UOW, Glen strives to build mathematical communities, promoting a sense of belonging and purpose in his students. One of his trademarks is integrating aspects of modern educational methods into traditional subjects, including social constructivism, problem-based learning, and flipped classrooms.
Citation: For leadership and innovation that has transformed the teaching of mathematics, including the creation of a first-year experience in mathematics, that empowers students via immersive, scaffolded, social, experiential learning.