Teaching Profile


As the first (and, for a long time, only) algebraist in the department I originated all of the second and third year undergraduate courses in abstract algebra: Group Theory, Further Group Theory, Rings and Modules, Algebraic Number Theory, Galois Theory and Semisimple Algebra. In addition I have rewritten, and introduced new, Part I courses on several occasions. From 1985 until 1996 I was the course director for the final year course in Mathematical Education, completely reorganising both the content and means of assessment. All of these courses have been consistently amongst the most popular courses in the department. I introduced the Maths/Accounting, Maths/USA and MMath/USA schemes.

I have always been concerned with improving the effectiveness of our teaching and assessment. I introduced the project option into our third year, restructured our examining, introduced a modular structure into our teaching in advance of its being adopted by the university, and reorganised our Restricted Honours scheme. In addition I have engaged in numerous discussions relating to our Combined degrees and service courses, and have helped to rearrange our second year course structure to be more efficient, effective, and to improve the communication skills of our students.

The reaction of students to my courses has always been of major concern to me. I would not consider my teaching to be effective if I failed to impart the pleasure that I derive from my subject. It is now departmental policy to distribute questionnaires to students, but this is a practice that I have adopted throughout my teaching career. The popularity of my courses may be judged by the numbers opting to take them, by the questionnaire returns, and by the comments consistently made in the Alternative Prospectus.

I go to some trouble to make myself available to students (even whilst Head of Department!), to give individual help and encouragement to those experiencing particular difficulties, and to provide extra stimulation for the most able. Evidence for the effectiveness of this is provided by the examination results and by the number of students who have gone on to do research in algebra. (One is now Professor of Algebra at Aberdeen University, having won the Junior Berwick Prize for his research in the area of algebra I directed him to for his final year undergraduate project.)

I have taken a genuine interest in the teaching of mathematics through my involvement with the Mathematics Education course, the Mathematics Association (whose annual conference I have addressed several times), and the Undergraduate Mathematics Teaching Conference (whose Proceedings I edited for a number of years). I have attended the International Conference for Mathematics Education and the Psychology of Mathematics Education Conference. I have attended many seminars relating to the teaching of mathematics and have given talks at other universities on the subject.

http://www.maths.lancs.ac.uk/~towers/
Last modified: Mon July 24 15:03:18 GMT 2006