New issue of The Mathematics Enthusiast is approaching

A new issue of The Mathematics Enthusiast (formerly known as The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast) is approaching, and this one is going to be a double issue. I am happy to announce the table of contents for this new issue, and thanks to the editor (Professor Bharath Sriraman), I am able to do this before it is even announced on the journal’s web site! Here it is:


New issue of The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast

A new issue of The Montana Mathematics Enthusiast has just appeared. This issue – Number 3, 2011 – is a special issue on “Optimizing Student Understanding in Mathematics”. The articles in this issue are a selection of some interesting papers from last year’s PME-NA conference. More about the background for this can be read in Professor Bharath Sriraman‘s excellent editorial. As usual, all articles in TMME are freely available as pdf-downloads, just as I like it 🙂

MKT seminar in Stavanger

June 20-21, our research group at the University of Stavanger had a seminar on mathematical knowledge for teaching at the beautiful Sola Strand Hotel. 12 invited researchers from Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and the U.S. participated together with four researchers from UiS. All participants presented their work, and there was also set aside time for discussions.

The participants of the seminar had different approaches to MKT, and this provided a nice setting for discussions. Our group had very much built upon the work that Sean Delaney have done in Ireland when we have translated adapted and used MKT items in a Norwegian setting. Dicky Ng has followed a similar approach in Indonesia. Miguel Ribeiro from Portugal has used MKT as an analytic framework for his research, whereas Jorryt van Bommel from Sweden (originally Holland) has studied MKT as the object of learning in her learning studies. Other participants in the seminar, like Bodil Kleve from Oslo University College, has worked with Rowland’s “knowledge quartet”. All these, and other, projects were presented and discussed in what turned out to be a very nice seminar.

One of the presenters, Sean Delaney (see photo below), pointed out some possibilities for future collaboration in this area, and some of the participants at the seminar have already started working on a proposal for a symposium at next year’s AERA conference. Hopefully, even more collaboration will follow from the seminar.

Sean Delaney presenting at MKT seminar, Sola 2011

The 2011 NORMA conferernce

This week, The sixth Nordic Conference on Mathematics Education, NORMA 11, is held in Reykjavik, Iceland. The conference is organized by the University of Iceland in association with the Nordic Society for Research in Mathematics Education. NoRME. I have been to the previous two NORMA conferences in Copenhagen (2008) and Trondheim (2005), and I enjoyed both. This year, however, I decided to stay at home and let two of my colleagues represent our group and present our paper. If interested, our presentation is published in our Norwegian web page (the presentation itself is in English).

The confence gathers researchers not only from the Nordic countries, but also from the rest of Europe and outside. Plenary speakers are Marit Johnsen-Høines, Bergen University College, Núria Planas, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Bharath Sriraman, The University of Montana, and Roger Säljö, University of Gothenburg. Unfortunately, the conference does not have a very strong online presence (no official use of social media), but the program at least gives some indications. After the conference, a book is often published containing the accepted papers from the conference.

2011 Annual Meeting of AERA

Unfortunately, I am not able to go to the annual meeting this year either, but I plan on following the conference online! The 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association is held in New Orleans. As usual, there are lots of interesting sessions, and although it is a conference for educational research in general, there is a number of sessions related to mathematics as well! For an overview, take a look at the conference program. According to the program, there are 45 sessions with “mathematics” in the title this year, and no less than 349 papers include the word “mathematics” in the title! (Try searching the online program to find more!)

In addition to the ordinary “phone book” (print version of the program), they have created a very nice mobile application this year. I have downloaded and tried the iPhone version, and it makes me wish I was there 🙂

The welcome screen on the iPhone app

Above is a snapshot of the welcome screen on the iPhone app. Below is the short description of the poster session that my good colleague Dicky Ng is presenting. Minsung Kwon and I have co-authored the poster. 

If you are in New Orleans, make sure to pop by the poster presentation on Sunday and tell Dicky I said hi! Details of our poster presentation can be found in the online program (direct link here).

If you want to follow the conference online like I do, you might want to check out the #AERA on twitter! So, to all my colleagues in New Orleans: enjoy the conference, and make sure you keep us updated!

Early Algebraization

Algebra is a stumbling stone for many of our pupils. It is also a branch of mathematics that is important for many other areas of mathematics. Jinfa Cai and Eric Knuth have edited a new book on “Early Algebraization” that has recently been published by Springer. The book belongs within the series “Advances in Mathematics Education“, which involves many important books (most of them outrageously expensive, I’m afraid). The main editors for this series are Gabriele Kaiser and Bharath Sriraman.

The table of contents is freely available for download, and so is the preface and some sample pages. The book has three parts, including curricular aspects, cognitive aspects and instructional aspects of algebra in school. Some of you might be lucky enough to be able to read the book online, others have to dig deep in your pockets and buy the book. If you are interested in algebra (and particularly from a research perspective), I think the book should definitely find a place in your shelves. If you cannot afford it, the introduction is very readable, and it gives a nice overview of the book. 

How beliefs influence professional development

Katja Maass, from Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg in Germany has written an interesting article about “How can teachers’ beliefs affect their professional development?” The article was recently published online in ZDM. In her article, Maass presents results from a sub-project in the international LEMA project. The qualitative study described in this article included interviews of six teachers who participated in a professional development course. The data were coded based on principles from Grounded Theory, and the author provides a nice description of the different stages in the coding process. The results are also presented in a nice and illustrative way, and her theoretical foundation includes a nice overview of research on beliefs. As part of her concluding discussion, Maass argues that the beliefs influence the implementation, and she also points to previous research which argues that beliefs are resistant to change. In other words, the challenge remains.

Here is the abstract of the article:

This paper describes a qualitative study that examines in more detail the question of how teachers’ beliefs may influence the intention to implement change as suggested by a professional development initiative. Several teachers in Germany took part in a professional development initiative for modelling. The course comprised five workshops spread over 2008. A part of our evaluation of the course involved interviewing six teachers after they had taken part. Teachers were interviewed about the impact the course had had on them, the opportunities and any related impediments they saw for modelling, and the way in which they typically taught. The interviews were evaluated using codes. Although the sample is very small, the cases allow for interesting insights, and for the hypotheses that teachers’ beliefs about effective teaching seem to have a major impact on whether or not they intend to change their classroom practice, as suggested by the professional development initiative, and on whether or not teachers perceive the context in which they are teaching (school head, parents, students, etc.) as supportive.

Video-based assessment

Anderson Norton, Andrea McCloskey and Rick A. Hudson have written an interesting article that was recently published online in Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. The article is entitled Prediction assessments: Using video-based predictions to assess prospective teachers’ knowledge of students’ mathematical thinking. Here is the abstract of their article:

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of an experimental elementary mathematics field experience course, we have designed a new assessment instrument. These video-based prediction assessments engage prospective teachers in a video analysis of a child solving mathematical tasks. The prospective teachers build a model of that child’s mathematics and then use that model to predict how the child will respond to a subsequent task. In this paper, we share data concerning the evolution and effectiveness of the instrument. Results from implementation indicate moderate to high degrees of inter-rater reliability in using the rubric to assess prospective teachers’ models and predictions. They also indicate strong correlation between participation in the experimental course and prospective teachers’ performances on the video-based prediction assessments. Such findings suggest that prediction assessments effectively evaluate the pedagogical content knowledge that we are seeking to foster among the prospective teachers.

Research on affect at CERME7

Today is the second day of the CERME7 conference in Rzeszow, Poland. I am attending (and enjoying!) the conference, and I’ll try and share some of the highlights. A lot of our time on this conference is devoted to working group sessions, and it is really a working conference! I am very much in favor of such a format for a conference, and I think it adds some beneficial things to it. The disadvantage, of course, is that you don’t really learn a lot about what is going on in the other working groups. The plenary lecture of today was very interesting, partially because it presented us with an overview of the results from the efforts of one particular working group over the last couple of years.

The lecture was held by Markku Hannula from the University of Helsinki, Finland. He held a very interesting lecture on “Structure and dynamics of affect in mathematical thinking and learning”. In this lecture, he presented us with an overview of research on affects in mathematics education over the last decades. He started off with a focus on the influential article (or handbook chapter) from 1992 by my good friend Douglas McLeod. Since the early 90s, this research area has developed quite a lot, although, in many respects, researchers still struggle with the same issues. This is very much related to the concepts in use, the relationships between the concepts as well as the dynamics involved. Hannula provided a structured and well presented overview of this development, and he also presented us with a nice three-dimensional model of the issues at hand. His presentation also included a nice overview of how the CERME working group on affects had developed over the years. I will look out for his paper when it arrives, and I am sure that it will be of great interest!

Below is the abstract of his lecture:

In this presentation, I will review the development of research on affect in mathematics education since the late 1990s and forecast some directions for future development. One trend in the development has been the elaboration of the theoretical foundation. I will suggest that a useful description of the affective domain can be based on distinctions in three dimensions: 1. rapidly changing affective states vs. relatively stable affective traits; 2. cognitive, motivational and emotional aspects of affect; and 3. the social, the psychological and the physiological nature of affect. Another direction of development has been to explore the structural nature of affect empirically. I will review some instruments that have been developed to measure different dimensions of beliefs, motivation and emotional traits. Moreover, I will look at some empirical results concerning how the different dimensions are related to each other, and how they develop over time.