Creating a Research Community in Mathematics Education

WCER Working Paper No. 2003-10

Thomas A. Romberg

August 2003, 42 pp.

ABSTRACT: This paper presents evidence about the emergence of a research community in mathematics education by contrasting work in the field in the 1960s with current work with regard to six features of such communities. Based on this contrast, the claim that a research community in mathematics education has emerged is only partially supported. (a) Today, an alternative standards-based vision of school mathematics is generally agreed to, but the details of how this vision can be realized in actual classrooms are not yet apparent. (b) Since the 1960s, some additional resources have been made available for conducting research, but those resources are still limited. (c) In contrast to the 1960s, scholars now have ample means of sharing information, but they still find it difficult to adequately disseminate their findings to teachers, other educators, and policymakers. (d) Today, there is some agreement among scholars on theoretical constructs, but as yet little use of a common language to situate current research. Nevertheless, today knowledge is seen as constructivist rather than formal; the learner is seen as an active participant rather than a product; and teaching is seen as nonroutine rather than routine. (e) Research in mathematics teaching and learning is currently accepted within the education research community, and some inroads have been made with teacher educators and teachers, but there is still little acceptance of this research in other fields. (e) Finally, the preparation of new researchers is now being carried out in a handful of institutions with strong research traditions, available resources, and capable mentors. Reflecting on the work of the past 30 years, the paper concludes with 12 findings about the teaching and learning of mathematics today.

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keywords: Research Communities; Mathematics Education