The struggle to "fix" math education

It is not entirely new, but I just discovered it: a very nice little video from the National Science Foundation about "The struggle to 'fix' math education in the US". The video is interesting from many perspectives, but for me it is particularly interesting because two of the three people that are featured in this film played an important role in the symposium where I gave my own presentation at this year's AERA conference. Bill Schmidt was one of our two discussants, and Deborah Ball was chair of our session. Along with Joan Ferrini-Mundi from NSF, they raise some important issues for mathematics education research in this video:

The video was created in relation to the NSF special report, Math: What's the problem?

Mathematics in early childhood education

The March issue of International Journal of Early Years Education contains several articles that are related to mathematics education:
  • Elizabeth Dunphy has written an article called Early childhood mathematics teaching: challenges, difficulties and priorities of teachers of young children in primary schools in Ireland. Abstract: Issues of pedagogy are critical in all aspects of early childhood education. Early childhood mathematics is no exception. There is now a great deal of guidance available to teachers in terms of high-quality early childhood mathematics teaching. Consequently, the characteristics of high-quality early childhood mathematics education are clearly identifiable. Issues such as building on young children's prior-to-school knowledge; engaging children in general mathematical processes; and assessing and documenting children's learning are some of the key aspects of high-quality early childhood mathematics education. The extent to which teachers of four- and five-year-old children in primary schools in Ireland incorporate current pedagogical guidance in early childhood mathematics education was explored in 2007 in a nationally representative questionnaire survey of teachers of four- and five-year-old children attending primary schools. This paper presents some of the findings of the study in relation to teachers' self-reported challenges, difficulties and priorities in teaching early childhood mathematics. Implications are drawn for professional development, curriculum guidance and educational policy.
  • Sally Howell and Coral Kemp have written an article called A participatory approach to the identification of measures of number sense in children prior to school entry. Abstract: The research reported in this paper used a modified Delphi procedure in an attempt to establish a consensus on tasks proposed to assess components of number sense identified as essential for early mathematics success by a broad range of academics with expertise in the area of early mathematics. Tasks included as measures of these components were based on assessment tasks developed by early mathematics researchers. Eighteen questionnaires were returned by academics from Australia, the UK, New Zealand, The Netherlands and the USA, all with published work in the areas of early mathematics and/or number sense. Both the proposed components and tasks in the questionnaires were limited to the number domain. The study revealed considerable agreement with a number of the proposed tasks and thus provided a way forward for the development of an early number sense assessment to be trialled with young children prior to their first year of formal schooling. 
  • A third article, entitled Numeracy-related exchanges in joint storybook reading and play, was written by Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler, Jackie Nelson, Charity Bumpass annd Bianca Sassine. Abstract: Studies of the processes by which parents encourage early numerical development in the context of parent-child interactions during routine, culturally relevant activities at home are scarce. The present study was designed to investigate spontaneous exchanges related to numeracy during parent-child interactions in reading and play activities at home. Thirty-seven families with a four-year-old child (13 low-income) were observed. Two types of numeracy interactions were of interest: socio-cultural numeracy exchanges, explaining the use and value of money or numbers in routine activities such as shopping or cooking, and mathematical exchanges, including counting, quantity or size comparisons. Results indicated that high-income parents engaged in more mathematical exchanges during both reading and play than did low-income parents, though there were no differences in the initiation of socio-cultural numeracy exchanges. The focus of parental guidance related to numeracy was conceptual and embedded in the activity context, with few dyads focusing on counting or numbers per se. The findings suggest the importance of parent education efforts that incorporate numeracy-related discourse in the context of daily routines to augment young children's numeracy development.


Is it worth using CAS

Robyn Pierce, Lynda Ball and Kaye Stacey have written an article called Is it worth using CAS  for symbolic algebra manipulation in the middle secondary years? Some teachers' views. The article was published online in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education on Thursday. Here is the abstract of their article:
The use of Computer Algebra Systems (CAS) in years 9 and 10 classrooms as a tool to support learning or in preparation for senior secondary mathematics is controversial. This paper presents an analysis of the positive and negative aspects of using CAS identified in the literature related to these year levels, along with the perceptions of 12 experienced secondary teachers who were working with years 9 and 10 students. The literature review shows that CAS is valued for calculation and manipulation capabilities, the option of alternative representations, the opportunity for systematic exploration and for prompting rich discussion. However, the technical overhead, initial workload for the teacher and unresolved questions about the perceived relative contribution of machine and by-hand work to learning currently pose obstacles to teaching with CAS in the middle secondary years. The teachers who contributed data to this study perceived that using CAS in their teaching is, on balance, worth the effort. However, they believed that CAS is of most benefit to their high ability students and may present an obstacle to their low ability students’ learning of mathematics.


Improving mathematics instruction through lesson study

Catherine C. Lewis, Rebecca R. Perry and Jacqueline Hurd have written an interesting article called Improving mathematics instruction through lesson study: a theoretical model and North American case. The article was published online in Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education on Monday. Here is the abstract of their article:
This article presents a theoretical model of lesson study, an approach to instructional improvement that originated in Japan. The theoretical model includes four lesson study features (investigation, planning, research lesson, and reflection) and three pathways through which lesson study improves instruction: changes in teachers’ knowledge and beliefs; changes in professional community; and changes in teaching–learning resources. The model thus suggests that development of teachers’ knowledge and professional community (not just improved lesson plans) are instructional improvement mechanisms within lesson study. The theoretical model is used to examine the “auditable trail” of data from a North American lesson study case, yielding evidence that the lesson study work affected each of the three pathways. We argue that the case provides an “existence proof” of the potential effectiveness of lesson study outside Japan. Limitations of the case are discussed, including (1) the nature of data available from the “auditable trail” and (2) generalizability to other lesson study efforts.

Sample space partitions

Egan J. Chernoff has written an article about Sample space partitions: An investigative lens. The article has recently been published in The Journal of Mathematical Behavior. Here is the abstract of Chernoff's article:
In this study subjects are presented with sequences of heads and tails, derived from flipping a fair coin, and asked to consider their chances of occurrence. In this new iteration of the comparative likelihood task, the ratio of heads to tails in all of the sequences is maintained. In order to help situate participants’ responses within conventional probability, this article employs unconventional set descriptions of the sample space organized according to: switches, longest run, and switches and longest run, which are all based upon subjects’ verbal descriptions of the sample space. Results show that normatively incorrect responses to the task are not devoid of correct probabilistic reasoning. The notion of alternative set descriptions is further developed, and the article contends that sample space partitions can act as an investigative lens for research on the comparative likelihood task, and probability education in general.

Interpreting motion graphs

Luis Radford has written an article called “No! He starts walking backwards!”: interpreting motion graphs and the question of space, place and distance. The article was recently published online in ZDM. Here is the abstract of the article:
This article deals with the interpretation of motion Cartesian graphs by Grade 8 students. Drawing on a sociocultural theoretical framework, it pays attention to the discursive and semiotic process through which the students attempt to make sense of graphs. The students’ interpretative processes are investigated through the theoretical construct of knowledge objectification and the configuration of mathematical signs, gestures, and words they resort to in order to achieve higher levels of conceptualization. Fine-grained video and discourse analyses offer an overview of the manner in which the students’ interpretations evolve into more condensed versions through the effect of what is called in the article “semiotic contractions” and “iconic orchestrations.”


How learning and teaching of mathematics can be made interesting

Sarwar J. Abbasi and Kahkashan Iqbal have written an article with a very interesting title: How learning and teaching of mathematics can be made interesting: a study based on statistical analysis. The article was published online recently in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is the abstract of their article:
In this article, we evaluate the true proportion of mathematics educators and teachers at under/post graduate levels in Karachi, Pakistan in making math courses lively to students. We use a random sample of 75 students of engineering and commerce studying in three different universities namely University of Karachi, Usman Institute of Technology (UIT) and Karachi Institute of Economics & Technology (PAF-KIET). A 95% confidence interval based on sample results reveals that the said proportion of math educators is in between 63 and 83%. Furthermore, we investigate with the help of students' responses how mathematics teachers at under/post graduate levels make their courses interesting-by showing their dedication in their subject, by giving logical reasoning and concrete examples or by making complex mathematical methods accessible to students giving them know-how of mathematical softwares. We find that the second technique is the most dominant and has a very strong impact (positive linear relationship) in achieving the said goal of a math-teacher. The linear correlation coefficient between students' opinion that math-teachers make their courses interesting and achieving this goal by giving logical reasoning and concrete examples is 0.989. Whereas the technique of using math softwares in attempt to make a math course lively has also a very strong but a cubic relationship and its multiple correlation coefficient is 0.984. Therefore, using technology in math classroom is also helpful in making math learning and teaching interesting but under some conditions that become apparent from our study made on the real data hence obtained.

New TMME monographs

Two new monographs have been published from The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast:

The editor of TMME, Bharath Sriraman, has been kind enough to send me previews of these two monographs for publishing on my blog.

Mono6 Preview

Mono7 Preview


Searching for good mathematics

Pi-Jen Li and Yeping Li have written an article that was published online in ZDM on Thursday. The article is entitled Searching for good mathematics instruction at primary school level valued in Taiwan. Here is the abstract:
In this article, we aim to provide a glimpse of what is counted as good mathematics instruction from Taiwanese perspectives and of various approaches developed and used for achieving high-quality mathematics instruction. The characteristics of good mathematics instruction from Taiwanese perspectives were first collected and discussed from three types of information sources. Although the number of characteristics of good mathematics instruction may vary from one source to another, they can be generally organized in three phases including lesson design before instruction, classroom instruction during the lesson and activities after lesson. In addition to the general overview of mathematics classroom instruction valued in Taiwan, we also analyzed 92 lessons from six experienced teachers whose instructional practices were generally valued in local schools and counties. We identified and discussed the characteristics of their instructional practices in three themes: features of problems and their uses in classroom instruction, aspects of problem–solution discussion and reporting, and the discussion of solution methods. To identify and promote high-quality mathematics instruction, various approaches have been developed and used in Taiwan including the development and use of new textbooks and teachers’ guides, teaching contests, master teacher training program, and teacher professional development programs.

Conceptualizing and organizing content for teaching and learning

Yeping Li, Xi Chen and Song An have written an article that was recently published online in ZDM. Their article is entitled Conceptualizing and organizing content for teaching and learning in selected Chinese, Japanese and US mathematics textbooks: the case of fraction division, and here is a copy of the abstract:
In this study, selected Chinese, Japanese and US mathematics textbooks were examined in terms of their ways of conceptualizing and organizing content for the teaching and learning of fraction division. Three Chinese mathematics textbook series, three Japanese textbook series, and four US textbook series were selected and examined to locate the content instruction of fraction division. Textbook organization of fraction division and other content topics were described. Further analyses were then conducted to specify how the content topic of fraction division was conceptualized and introduced. Specific attention was also given to the textbooks’ uses of content constructs including examples, representations, and exercise problems in order to show their approaches for the teaching and learning of fraction division. The results provide a glimpse of the metaphors of mathematics teaching and learning that have been employed in Chinese, Japanese, and US textbooks. In particular, the results from the textbook analyses demonstrate how conceptual underpinnings were developed while targeting procedures and operations. Implications of the study are then discussed.

Productive failure in mathematical problem solving

Manu Kapur has written an article that was published in Instructional Science on Thursday. The article is entitled Productive failure in mathematical problem solving. Here is the abstract of Kapur's article:
This paper reports on a quasi-experimental study comparing a “productive failure” instructional design (Kapur in Cognition and Instruction 26(3):379–424, 2008) with a traditional “lecture and practice” instructional design for a 2-week curricular unit on rate and speed. Seventy-five, 7th-grade mathematics students from a mainstream secondary school in Singapore participated in the study. Students experienced either a traditional lecture and practice teaching cycle or a productive failure cycle, where they solved complex problems in small groups without the provision of any support or scaffolds up until a consolidation lecture by their teacher during the last lesson for the unit. Findings suggest that students from the productive failure condition produced a diversity of linked problem representations and methods for solving the problems but were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts, be it in groups or individually. Expectedly, they reported low confidence in their solutions. Despite seemingly failing in their collective and individual problem-solving efforts, students from the productive failure condition significantly outperformed their counterparts from the lecture and practice condition on both well-structured and higher-order application problems on the post-tests. After the post-test, they also demonstrated significantly better performance in using structured-response scaffolds to solve problems on relative speed—a higher-level concept not even covered during instruction. Findings and implications of productive failure for instructional design and future research are discussed.

Instructional Science, May 2009

The May issue of Instructional Science has recently been published. This issue contains five articles, and at least one of them is directly related to mathematics education. Here is the list of articles in the issue:

ESM, May 2009

The May issue of Educational Studies in Mathematics has been published. This issue contains four scientific articles and a book review:


Concept mapping in mathematics

Springer has published a new book about Concept Mapping in Mathematics. The book has been edited by Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata'i. A concept map is simply a kind of diagram that displays the relationships between concepts. The idea was originally developed by Joseph Novak in the 1970s, and Novak, in turn, based hihs work on the theories of David Ausubel. I haven't read the book yet, but it sure sounds like an interesting book! Here is the publisher's description of the book:
Concept Mapping in Mathematics: Research into Practice is the first comprehensive book on concept mapping in mathematics. It provides the reader with an understanding of how the meta-cognitive tool, namely, hierarchical concept maps, and the process of concept mapping can be used innovatively and strategically to improve planning, teaching, learning, and assessment at different educational levels. This collection of research articles examines the usefulness of concept maps in the educational setting, with applications and examples ranging from primary grade classrooms through secondary mathematics to pre-service teacher education, undergraduate mathematics and post-graduate mathematics education. A second meta-cognitive tool, called vee diagrams, is also critically examined by two authors, particularly its value in improving mathematical problem solving.

The theoretical underpinnings of concept mapping and of the studies in the book include Ausubel’s cognitive theory of meaningful learning, constructivist and Vygotskian psychology to name a few. There is evidence which suggests that students’ mathematical literacy and problem solving skills can be enhanced through students collaborating and interacting as they work, discuss and communicate mathematically. This book proposes the meta-cognitive strategy of concept mapping as one viable means of promoting, communicating and explicating students’ mathematical thinking and reasoning publicly in a social setting as they engage in mathematical dialogues and discussions.

Concept Mapping in Mathematics: Research into Practice is of interest to researchers, graduate students, teacher educators and professionals in mathematics education.

Instructional beliefs

Feral Ogan-Bekiroglu and Hatice Akkoç have written an article called PRESERVICE TEACHERS’ INSTRUCTIONAL BELIEFS AND EXAMINATION OF CONSISTENCY BETWEEN BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. The article was published online in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education last week. Here is their article abstract:
The purposes of this study were to determine preservice physics teachers’ instructional beliefs and to investigate the relationship between their beliefs and practices. The theoretical framework was based on the combination Haney & McArthur’s (Science Education, 86(6):783–802, 2002) research and Ford’s (1992) motivation systems theory. A multicase study design was utilized for the research in order to focus on a belief–practice relationship within several examples. Semistructured interviews, observations, and preservice teachers’ written documents were used to collect data. Results showed that most preservice teachers held instructional beliefs aligned with constructivist philosophy. Some of the preservice teachers’ beliefs were consistent with their practices while some of them presented different practices from their beliefs in different placements.


Why do I blog?

Today, I am giving a presentation at AERA, in a Public Communication Workshop. I have been invited to participate in this session because I am an education researcher who blog about the field that I am in. I have been asked to focus on six questions, and I thought it might be nice to share my thoughts about this with all  my readers.

1. Why do you blog?
This is actually a rather complex question to answer, but I think  the easy version is that I am using my blog to learn more about my field. I spend quite a lot of time searching for new articles and books, and I use an amount of (mostly web-based) tools in this process. When I write about the articles and books I find, it helps me to remember it, and my blog has also become part of my continuous process of organizing my own knowledge about the field that I am in. I think it is fair to add that this could easily have been done in a more private notebook or something like that, but I have experienced several benefits of presenting this in my blog rather than keeping it private. One of the benefits is that people from all over the world can learn about the work that I do, and they can take advantage of the efforts I have made to keep up with everything that happens within the field of mathematics education research. Some of my readers make comments on the things I write. Sometimes, the comments challenge my own thinking, which is good. Other times, their comments make me aware of aspects that I did not think about in the first place, or they introduce me to people with similar or different views than I have myself. Sometimes, I have written about an article, and the author of the article has sent me an e-mail and attached some more articles that (s)he has written. I like that! 

Last, but not least, my blog  forces me to write. As a researcher, it is important for me to always be in some kind of a writing process. English is only my second language, but it is still the language I publish most of my papers in. My blog is therefore a tool to help me practice my writing skills (in English) as well.

2. Does it help you profesionally?
The short answer is YES! The somewhat more extended answer is that I believe my blog helps me profesionally on many levels.  First, my motivation to start writing this blog was - as I have already said - to keep up to date with my field. Whenever one of the large journals publish a new article or issue, I try to write about it. As a result, I feel much more at home in my field, simply because I know more about what is happening. Personally, I also want to write and publish articles. Because of my blog, I feel more confident about the theory - I know that I have made an effort to stay up to date, and I believe that my blog writing has given me a very good overview of the field that I am in. My blog also forces me to read more scientific articles, and this has helped me in my own process of writing scientific articles.

Another thing that I have gained from my blog is of course that more and more people from all over the world know who I am, which helps me on a professional level too. One of the most recent examples of this is of course that I was invited  to present in this workshop as a direct result of my blog!

3) Are math colleagues skeptical?
Overall, I would say no! Most of my colleagues appreciate the work that I am doing with my blog, and some of them use it as a tool to stay up to date themselves. Some have been skeptical towards the entire idea of sharing too much of your work and ideas online, because they fear that someone might "steal" your ideas. I don't see this as problematic at all! I share a lot online, and I think the benefits of that far outweigh the possible disadvantages. 

4) What are you trying to accomplish with it?
As I have already said, the main reason I had for starting to write this blog was to learn more about my own field of research! I did not do this to become famous or something, and I didn't even think a blog like this would attract many readers at all. It looks quite boring, there are very few images or illustrations in it, and many posts are quite similar. If I were trying to gather lots of readers, I would definitely make it different! Still, every month I have about 2,000 readers from 70-100 countries all over the world. This is not a lot, and it is not very important, but I still think it is quite good. After all, we are talking about a blog that focus on research in mathematics education. I wouldn't expect something like that to attract the masses anyway!

5) As a practical matter, how do you find time to do it, given the teaching/research/committee assignments work of a professor?
Short answer: I wake up early :-)
On a normal day, I am in my office at 7:00am. I spend the first hour checking for new articles in the main journals (I use Google Reader for this, so the news come to me rather than the other way around). If there has been published a new article, I read the abstract (sometimes that's all), copy the entire article to Evernote (if it is available online), index it, and write a blog post about it. On average, I use 3-4 hours every week on my blog. On busy days, I might do this in the evening instead of in the morning. 

6) Is this something you'd recommend that young scholars do?
When I started writing my blog, I couldn't find anything like this on the web. I still haven't found many other blogs like this, and I think this is quite sad. I believe that a blog is a great way of communicating with people, and I believe that a blog would be more accessible to most people than a scientific journal. I also think a blog is a great tool for gathering and sharing information from different sources, and in that respect it can be a great tool for researchers as well as for "ordinary people". I wish more scholars - young and old -  would do this, so this is something I would definitely recommend! I have been thinking about making a new blog, where I communicate research results from my field in a way that is more accessible to teachers and people outside the research community. Unfortunately, I haven't found time to do this, so this might be a challenge for someone else. I think it would have been great if someone took the challenge!

Mathematics teachers' practices and thinking

Yeping Li, Xi Chen and Gerald Kulm have written an article called Mathematics teachers’ practices and thinking in lesson plan development: a case of teaching fraction division. The article was recently published online in ZDM. Here is their article abstract:

In this study, we aimed to examine mathematics teachers’ daily lesson plans and associated practices and thinking in lesson plan development. By focusing on teachers’ preparation for teaching fraction division, we collected and analyzed a sequence of four lesson plans from each of six mathematics teachers in six different elementary schools in China. Interviews with these teachers were also analyzed to support the lesson plan analysis and reveal teachers’ thinking behind their practices. The results show that Chinese teachers placed a great consideration on several aspects of lesson planning, including content, process, and their students’ learning. Teachers’ lesson plans were similar in terms of some broad features, but differed in details and specific approaches used. While the textbook’s influence was clearly evident in these teachers’ lesson plans, lesson planning itself was an important process for Chinese teachers to transform textbook content into a script unique to different teachers and their students. Implications obtained from Chinese teachers’ lesson planning practices and their thinking are then discussed in a broad context.
On a side note, I should also mention that Douglas L. Corey made an interesting presentation about Japanese Conceptions of High-Quality Mathematics Instruction at AERA today, and his focus was very much on the Japanese teachers' use of lesson plan.

In-service teacher training in Botswana

Kim Agatha Ramatlapana has written an article that was recently published online in Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. The article is entitled Provision of in-service training of mathematics and science teachers in Botswana: teachers’ perspectives. Here is the abstract:
Teaching is a field that is dynamic, with innovations necessitating upgrading of skills and education of teachers for the successful implementation of reforms. The behaviour and attitudes of teachers towards teaching and learning and their knowledge banks are the result of the impact of in-service training. This study investigated the perceptions of mathematics and science teachers in Botswana towards in-service provision by the Department of Mathematics and Science Education In-service Training unit (DMSE-INSET), whose mandate is to improve the quality of teaching by supporting teachers through training programmes that enable them to take ownership of their professional development. Data were collected from a sample of 42 senior Mathematics and Science secondary school teachers, using structured interviews with open-ended questions, which were analyzed qualitatively. The findings show that teachers’ concerns included the lack of impact of current in-service training programmes on the education system, no regular follow-up activities to support the one-off workshops and insufficient skills acquired to sustain the implementation of the strategies solicited by the workshops.


Drag with a worn-out mouse

Miriam Godoy Penteado and Ole Skovsmose have written an article called How to drag with a worn-out mouse? Searching for social justice through collaboration. This article was recently published online in Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. Here is the article abstract:
We consider what a concern for social justice in terms of social inclusion might mean for teacher education, both practising and prospective, with particular reference to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in mathematics education taking place at a borderland school. Our discussion proceeds through the following steps: (1) We explore what a borderland position might denote to address what social inclusion might mean. (2) We consider the significance of mathematics education and the use of ICT for processes of social inclusion. (3) We briefly refer to the Interlink Network, as many of our observations emerge as reflections on this project. (4) We present different issues that will be of particular importance with respect to teacher education if we want to establish a mathematics education for social inclusion. These issues concern moving away from the comfort zone, establishing networks, identifying new approaches, moving beyond prototypical research, and getting in contact. This brings us to (5) final considerations, where we return to the notion of social justice.


Tuesday sessions at AERA

Today, I have attended three sessions at AERA, including the symposium session where I made my own presentation.

The other two sessions I attended where both within the Special Interest Group (SIG) for research in mathematics education. The first was called Mathematics Content and Pedagogical Knowledge of Preservice and Inservice Teachers. The session consisted of five individual paper presentations, and a very interesting contribution in the end by discussant Michael D. Steele from Michigan State University. One of the issues he pointed at was the very important question: How does teacher knowledge and beliefs operationalize into practice? This is a very interesting question, but also very hard to give an answer to. 

The second session (ours was in between) had four presentations followed by some comments from Edward A. Silver. the session was entitled: Knowledge for Teaching mathematics - A Structured Inquiry. As Silver commented, the papers in this presentation were rather different, from the ones attempting to approach a grand theory of teacher knowledge, to the ones who tried to contribute to a more distinct area of this field. Silver also pointed to some important questions here. One was related to this phrase: "Teachers need to know..." What does this mean? And what is the warrant? He also made some comments about the cultural issues that are involved in this, and he said some very nice things about the symposium I was in as well, which is of course flattering to hear from someone like him!

In conclusion, it has been an interesting day, and there have been lots of interesting presentations concerning teacher knowledge, which happens to be the field that I am most interested in.


My AERA presentation

I am giving my presentation on Tuesday, April 14, in a symposium session from 10:35am to 12:05pm. Here is the slideshow for my presentation:


(Direct link to paper)

Here is the article I am presenting:

Mosvold-Fauskanger, AERA 2009 paper
(Direct link to the article)

Preparation for our symposium session

I have just been to a preparation meeting for our symposium  session at AERA tomorrow. The session is called Adapting and Using U.S. Measures of Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching in Other Countries: Lessons and Challenges. The session is going to be chaired by Deborah L. Ball, and there are going to be five presentations of papers:

  • I am going to make the first presentation after the chair's introductoin, and I am going to present a paper that I have written in collaboration with my colleague, Janne Fauskanger: Challenges of Translating and Adapting the MKT Measures for Norway
  • The next presentation is going to be held by Minsung Kwon from South Korea. She is going to present her paper: Validating the Adapted MKT Measures in Korea
  • Dicky Ng is following up with a presentation of his study in Indonesia. The title of his paper is: Translating and Adapting the Geometry Measures for Indonesia
  • Yaa Cole unfortunately couldn't make it, but there has been prepared a video presentation of her paper: Studying the Work of Teaching Mathematics in Ghana
  • The final presentation is made by Sean Delaney from Ireland. He was the one who invited us all to participate in this symposium, and he has been in charge of the entire process. He is presenting his paper: Using Qualitative and Quantitative Methods to Study Construct Equivalence of a Teacher Knowledge Construct
After our presentations there has been allocated some time for the two scholars who has been invited to be discussants in the session: Kathryn M. Anderson-Levitt and William H. Schmidt. The entire session will take place between 10:35am and 12:05pm (tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14) in the Santa Rosa room at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina.

I will report further from the session tomorrow.


AERA 2009 Annual Meeting

This week, the 90th annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) takes place in San Diego, California. The theme for this year's conference is Disciplined Inquiry: Education Research in the Circle of Knowledge and I am attending for the first time! According to a news release, it is going to be a really big thing too:
When the American Educational Research Association (AERA) hosts the AERA Annual Meeting next month, more than 14,000 education research scholars will convene in San Diego, California where 2,000 peer-reviewed sessions are scheduled from April 13 to17.
AERA was founded in 1916, and it is:
(...) the most prominent international professional organization, with the primary goal of advancing educational research and its practical application (Source).
As of today, it has more than 26,000 members worldwide, and the membership represents a broad range of disciplines like:
  • education
  • psychology
  • statistics
  • sociology
  • history
  • economics
  • philosophy
  • anthropology
  • political science
I will do my best to cover the event here on my blog, and with such a broad range of disciplines, vast amount of members and presenters, I am absolutely sure that this conference is going to be great!


Preparations for AERA

I am spending the last few days at home before I leave for the AERA conference in San Diego. This is the first time I go to this conference, and I am really looking forward to it! 

I am going to present on Tuesday, April 14, in a symposium session called: Adapting and using U.S. measures of Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching in other countries: Lessons and challenges. The session will take place in the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina, the Santa Rosa room,  between 10:35am and 12:05pm. I am presenting on behalf of my research group at the University of Stavanger, Norway. Our paper is ready, and the presentation is also more or less finished. I will post them both here my blog on Tuesday. 

Preparing for the AERA, I was just reading a post by fellow blogger and twitterer, Bud Talbot, about his preparations for the conference. I think Bud is making some interesting points about the "game" of attending conferences, making presentations etc. Worth reading!

Hopefully, I will be able to cover the conference quite well through this blog and my twitter account


Sexy maths

I have already written about this year's Abel Prize winner, Mikhail Gromov in earlier posts, but an article by Marcus du Sautoy in Times Online motivated an addition to the earlier posts. The article is called "Sexy maths: Drawing parallels in geometry". In this article, du Sautoy claims that Gromov has made
(...) some of the most revolutionary contributtions to geometry since those of Euclid.
The article gives an interesting insight into some of the most important aspects of the historical development of geometry, with Euclid's parallel postulate as a pivotal point. An excellent article by du Sautoy, who is a mathematician himself.

Solutions of linear equations

D.G. Mallet and S.W. McCue have written an article called Constructive development of the solutions of linear equations in introductory ordinary differential equations. The article has been published online in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is the abstract of their article:
The solution of linear ordinary differential equations (ODEs) is commonly taught in first-year undergraduate mathematics classrooms, but the understanding of the concept of a solution is not always grasped by students until much later. Recognizing what it is to be a solution of a linear ODE and how to postulate such solutions, without resorting to tables of solutions, is an important skill for students to carry with them to advanced courses in mathematics. In this study, we describe a teaching and learning strategy that replaces the traditional algorithmic, transmission presentation style for solving ODEs with a constructive, discovery-based approach where students employ their existing skills as a framework for constructing the solutions of first and second-order linear ODEs. We elaborate on how the strategy was implemented and discuss the resulting impact on a first-year undergraduate class. Finally, we propose further improvements to the strategy as well as suggesting other topics which could be taught in a similar manner.


Supervision of teachers

Göta Eriksson has written an article that was recently published online in The Journal of Mathematical Behavior. The article is entitled Supervision of teachers based on adjusted arithmetic learning in special education. Here is the abstract:

This article reports on 20 children's learning in arithmetic after teaching was adjusted to their conceptual development. The report covers periods from three months up to three terms in an ongoing intervention study of teachers and children in schools for the intellectually disabled and of remedial teaching in regular schools. The researcher classified each child's current counting scheme before and after each term. Recurrent supervision, aiming to facilitate the teachers’ modelling of their children's various conceptual levels and needs of learning, was conducted by the researcher. The teaching content in harmony with each child's ability was discussed with the teachers. This approach gives the teachers the opportunity to experience the children's own operational ways of solving problems. At the supervision meetings, the teachers theorized their practice together with the researcher, ending up with consistent models of the arithmetic of the child. So far, the children's and the teachers’ learning patterns are promising.

Learning math by thinking

Michael Paul Goldenberg over at the Rational Mathematics Education blog has written an interesting post about LEARNING MATH BY THINKING - Hassler Whitney, Louis P. Benezet, and how many more wasted lives and decades will it take?

I am not going to quote anything from his post, only recommend it as an excellent read for the holidays!


6 out of 10 university students have math anxiety

I learned about this through Deb Russel's blog over at About.com. A Spanish study reveals that:

Six out of every 10 university students, regardless their field of study, present symptoms of anxiety when it comes to dealing with mathematics
Some details about the study reveals that:
The researchers assessed the students using the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales, a questionnaire validated by experts from all over the world which has been used since the 70s. The students took the questionnaire at the beginning of the second four-month period of school.
These are interesting results. Math anxiety should definitely be taken seriously, and a person's attitudes towards mathematics are important, regardless if they are related to anxiety or not. I have done a much more informal study of my own students in early childhood education over the last couple of years, and almost half of them find mathematics boring and/or difficult. If some of them even have math anxiety, I think this will strongly impact their work as future teachers, kindergarten teachers or whatever they will end up doing!


Effect of personalization

Mojeed K. Akinsola and Adeneye O.A. Awofala have written an article about the Effect of personalization of instruction on students' achievement and self-efficacy in mathematics word problems. This article was published in the last issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is their abstract:
This study investigated the effect of personalized print-based instruction on the achievement and self-efficacy regarding mathematics word problems of 320 senior secondary students in Nigeria. The moderator effect of gender was also examined on independent variable (personalization) and dependent variables (mathematics word problem achievement and self-efficacy). The t-test statistic was used to analyse the data collected for the study. The results showed that significant differences existed in the mathematics word problem achievement and self-efficacy beliefs of personalized and non-personalized groups, male and female personalized groups and male and female non-personalized groups.

The problem of the pyramid

Paul M.E. Shutler has written an article called The problem of the pyramid or Egyptian mathematics from a postmodern perspective. The article was published in the latest issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is the abstract of Shutler's article:
We consider Egyptian mathematics from a postmodern perspective, by which we mean suspending judgement as to strict correctness in order to appreciate the genuine mathematical insights which they did have in the context in which they were working. In particular we show that the skill which the Egyptians possessed of obtaining the general case from a specific numerical example suggests a complete solution to the well-known, but hitherto not completely resolved, question of how the volume of the truncated pyramid given in Problem 14 of the Moscow papyrus was derived. We also point out some details in Problem 48 of the Rhind papyrus, on the area of the circle, which have previously gone unnoticed. Finally, since many of their mathematical insights have long been forgotten, and fall within the modern school syllabus, we draw some important lessons for contemporary mathematics education.

Students discovering spherical geometry

Bulent Guven and Ilhan Karatas have written an article called Students discovering spherical geometry using dynamic geometry software. The article was published in the last issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is the abstract of their article:
Dynamic geometry software (DGS) such as Cabri and Geometers' Sketchpad has been regularly used worldwide for teaching and learning Euclidean geometry for a long time. The DGS with its inductive nature allows students to learn Euclidean geometry via explorations. However, with respect to non-Euclidean geometries, do we need to introduce them to students in a deductive manner? Do students have quite different experiences in non-Euclidean environment? This study addresses these questions by illustrating the student mathematics teachers' actions in dynamic spherical geometry environment. We describe how student mathematics teachers explore new conjectures in spherical geometry and how their conjectures lead them to find proofs in DGS.

Performance of undergraduate students in the limit concept

Nezahat Cetin has written an article called The performance of undergraduate students in the limit concept. The article was published in the last issue of International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Here is the article abstract:
In this work, we investigated first-year university students' skills in using the limit concept. They were expected to understand the relationship between the limit-value of a function at a point and the values of the function at nearby points. To this end, first-year students of a Turkish university were given two tests. The results showed that the students were able to compute the limit values by applying standard procedures but were unable to use the limit concept in solving related problems.

Students' experiences with mathematics teaching and learning

Dumma C. Mapolelo from University of Botswana has written an article that was recently published in the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. The article is entitled Students' experiences with mathematics teaching and learning: listening to unheard voices. Here is the abstract of the article:
This study documents students' views about the nature of mathematics, the mathematics learning process and factors within the classroom that are perceived to impact upon the learning of mathematics. The participants were senior secondary school students. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to understand the students' views about their experiences with mathematics learning and mathematics classroom environment. Interviews of students and mathematics lesson observations were analysed to understand how students view their mathematics classes. A questionnaire was used to solicit students' views with regards to teaching approaches in mathematics classes. The results suggest that students consider learning and understanding mathematics to mean being successful in getting the correct answers. Students reported that in the majority of cases, the teaching of mathematics was lecture-oriented. Mathematics language was considered a barrier in learning some topics in mathematics. The use of informal language was also evident during mathematics class lessons.


When two circles determine a triangle

Nikolaos Metaxas and Andromachi Karagiannidou have written an article called When Two Circles Determine a Triangle. Discovering and Proving a Geometrical Condition in a Computer Environment. This article was published online in the International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning on Sunday. Here is the abstract of their article:
Visualization of mathematical relationships enables students to formulate conjectures as well as to search for mathematical arguments to support these conjectures. In this project students are asked to discover the sufficient and necessary condition so that two circles form the circumscribed and inscribed circle of a triangle and investigate how this condition effects the type of triangle in general and its perimeter in particular. Its open-ended form of the task is a departure from the usual phrasing of textbook’s exercises “show that…”.