Plenary Speakers

Sean Larsen

The TAAFU Project: There and Back Again

The Teaching Abstract Algebra for Understanding project (now in its 14th year) began as a dissertation study that inspired a rejected NSF CAREER proposal. The proposed project consisted of three components. The first was research on students’ understanding of abstract algebra. The second was the design of two abstract algebra courses. The third was the development of valid instruments for measuring students’ understanding of abstract algebra. The proposal netted me the first of the four consecutive “declines” from NSF that launched my grant-writing career.  In response, I put together a team, got a little internal funding, and started doing the project anyways. Eventually, we managed to create an inquiry oriented group theory course (with instructor support materials), make some contributions to the research literature, and produce a group theory concept inventory. (In the middle of the project we even secured some NSF support.) In my talk, I’ll share how my project became our project. As I do so, I will discuss some of the highlights of the project so far, emphasizing some important contributions of former students. I will finish by talking about what is going on with the project now and what we are planning for the future.

Peg Smith

Developing Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching in a Methods Course

In secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs, the work of learning mathematics and the work of learning to teach mathematics are often separated, leaving open the question of when and how teachers integrate their knowledge of content and pedagogy. In this session, I present a model for a content-focused methods course, which systematically develops a slice of mathematics content in the context of methods course activities. Three design principles are posited that undergird the design of such a course:  1) selecting mathematics content that is key to developing proficient in grades 7-12; 2) developing an inquiry that provides a unifying thread for the course; and 3) designing and sequencing activities that attend to both mathematics content and pedagogy. Data from an instantiation of one such course, focused on functions, will be presented to illustrate the ways in which the course design framed teachers’ opportunities to learn about both content and pedagogy.

David Stinson

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in Undergraduate Mathematics: What is it? Is there a Need? What might it “look like”? Is it Possible?

Over the past 3 decades or so, there has been a proliferation of literature discussing the possibilities, challenges, and promises of culturally relevant pedagogy and its effects on the learning and achievement of Pre-K–12 students and on the preparation and development of pre- and in-service teachers. In this plenary address, Dr. Stinson responds to the often-asked questions: (a) Just what is culturally relevant pedagogy? (b) Is there a need for culturally relevant pedagogy in undergraduate mathematics education? After providing a historical outline of the theoretical and methodological development of culturally relevant pedagogy, Dr. Stinson makes an argument to answer the second question in the affirmative. He then discusses the possibilities (and impossibilities) of how culturally relevant pedagogy might be reinvented for undergraduate mathematics classrooms.

The SIGMAA on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education presents its Nineteenth Annual

February 25 - 27, 2016  |  Pittsburgh, PA

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