As a young field in its own right (unlike the ancient discipline of mathematics), mathematics education research has been eclectic in drawing upon the established knowledge bases and methodologies of other fields. Psychology served as an early model for a paradigm that valorized psychometric research, largely based in the theoretical frameworks of cognitive science. More recently, with the recognition of the need for sociocultural theories, because mathematics is generally learned in social groups, sociology and anthropology have contributed to methodologies that gradually moved away from psychometrics towards qualitative methods that sought a deeper understanding of issues involved. The emergent perspective struck a balance between research on individual learning (including learners’ beliefs and affect) and the dynamics of classroom mathematical practices. Now, as the field matures, the value of both quantitative
and qualitative methods is acknowledged, and these are frequently combined in research that uses mixed methods, sometimes taking the form of design experiments or multi-tiered teaching experiments. Creativity and rigor are required in all mathematics education research, thus it
is argued in this paper, using examples, that characteristics of both the arts and the sciences are implicated in this work.
Norma Presmeg has written an article with the interesting perspective: Mathematics education research embracing arts and sciences. The article was published in ZDM on Wednesday.Here is the article abstract: