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What's New in Mathematics Education?

Werklund School experts share research, findings with community
March 21,2017

The Werklund School of Education will host a three part symposium to focus on new ideas and research into mathematics education.

Everyone has a personal relationship with math.

And it doesn’t really matter if it’s love or hate or somewhere in between, chances are your feelings about the subject probably come with strong opinions and ideas about the “right way” to learn it and teach it.

But what do we really know?

Has anyone actually done their homework on this subject?

Brent Davis and Jo Towers have, and they, along with their colleagues who focus on mathematics education research at the Werklund School of Education, make up what is possibly the largest cohort of researchers in this important area at a Canadian post-secondary institution.

And they believe they can teach us all a thing or two.

“Culturally, we seem to have evolved to a place where it’s nearly impossible to argue that the content and the strategies that define school mathematics can be defended,” says Davis, who holds a Werklund Professorship in the Werklund School of Education.

Davis believes that it’s taken some time for educational research to be recognized in the classroom, and he says the combination of the volume of research work being produced, coupled with validation of that work from varying and diverse areas of study (such as neuroscience, sociology, and cultural studies), is part of what’s driving this refreshed attitude.

Yet Davis suggests there is a disconnect when it comes to the design of new curriculum at the policy-making level. “It’s not clear that these projects (in curricula redevelopment) are happening in conversation with research into evolving needs and relevance.”

Towers, also a Werklund Research Professor, agrees and says, “The discourse about mathematics teaching and learning is not always deeply research-informed, so this is an important moment to share critical findings of Calgary-based research projects so that we can contribute to deepened understanding for all those who care about how mathematics is taught and learned in this province.”

Davis and Towers developed a three part symposium being offered on the UCalgary campus this spring. It’s called Emerging Insights into Mathematics Education, and its goal is to introduce the Werklund School’s mathematics education researchers and their work to teachers, principals, those responsible for policy direction in Alberta schools, university instructors, researchers, graduate students, and teacher educators—virtually anyone with an interest in learning more about the latest research into mathematics education.

The sessions will be held once a month, starting in April. Each will open with a brief presentation of provocative ideas and questions relating to the focus topic, followed by deeper examinations of current research findings. There will be time allotted for the audience to learn more about the data, see demonstrations, participate in table discussions, ask questions, and contribute to the directions of future research.

There is no charge to attend and anyone can participate in a single session or all three; registration is requested to ensure adequate seating.