Spring 2008         Math 5360 (the “second” 5360 for MAT Cohorts IV and V)              CRN 23951

Introduction to Research in Mathematics Education

WELCOME!  ¡BIENVENIDOS!             Monday, January 14, 2008 


Official Course Description:  An introduction to current research literature in mathematics education focusing on the relations between theories of cognition and learning and philosophies of mathematics. Topics may include constructivism, Vygotskian theory, genetic epistemology, and technological cognition. The course may be repeated once for credit as content changes.  Prerequisites: MATH 3300 with a grade of “C” or better and department approval.


Course Objectives:

ú          Increase ability to search, critique and synthesize the research literature in math education

ú          Gain further insight into methodology and choosing methodology to support your research question

To understand ethical principles of research and how to fulfill compliance requirements with your school district, then with UTEP Internal Review Board since you’re conducting research as part of your coursework here (see top of “Useful Links” section)

ú         Write a research proposal (to satisfy the standards of an IRB, a grant, an article, a professional presentation, etc.) to collect data to investigate a research question of interest in mathematics education (so Cohort V students can conduct a study that culminates in a Spring 2009 Math 5396 paper with these sections:   introduction, literature review, design/methodology, results, conclusions, bibliography).

ú          Learn how to contribute to and benefit from being part of an inquiry community, including peer debriefing and feedback on oral and written communication



When:     January 14 - April 30 MW from 5-6:20 pm, except for UTEP holidays (Jan. 21,

               March 24, 26, 31); the “final” meeting appears to be scheduled by UTEP for Mon.,

               May 5, 4-6:45 pm (we’ll see if it’s feasible and better to shift things a bit later that day)

Where:    EDUC 304   Bell Hall 130A


Required Textbook and Materials: 

ú         Van Zoest, Laura R. (Ed.) (2006).  Teachers Engaged in Research: Inquiry into Mathematics Classrooms, Grades 9-12.  Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

ú         Because no single book completely covers all of the goals of the course, we will supplement this book with handouts, individual articles, online resources and demonstrations.    Some materials and announcements may be sent via email.


Instructor:  Dr. Larry Lesser, Associate Professor      

Bell 213 Office Hours:  4-4:50 pm MW (or by appointment), updates to be posted
Phone:                 747-6845 (SIR-OUIJA)

E-mail:                 lesser (at) utep.edu

Homepage:          www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/


Grades determined by the usual cutoffs (90-80-70-60), based on these parts:

Presentations/Reflection Papers/Discussion Facilitation (35%)

Research Paper (50%), 10-20 pages on a topic connected to the teaching and learning of math (or statistics); general topics such as ‘technology’, ‘group work’ or ‘gender issues’ are acceptable only if explored in the context of teaching and learning mathematics/statistics.  If you’re unsure, ask me!   Subject to modification by instructor, the paper is due to me on April 30.

ú         Paper must focus primarily on the purpose and importance of your proposed study, the guiding research questions/hypotheses, and a thorough review of relevant literature and any prior pilot study work. Also, details of methodology (how the study would be conducted) should be discussed in at least enough detail to allow for replication and to satisfy approval requirements by UTEP IRB and your school district.

ú         This paper and all other written assignments should be word processed with double-spacing and a standard 12-point font (e.g., Times New Roman), checked for spelling/grammar, and have any appropriate output/graphics electronically pasted into the document.  Sections should be clearly marked, assembled in order, and stapled (not put into a folder or sleeve) with a meaningfully-titled identification coversheet on top.  Use APA style (American Psychological Association, 5th edition) with appropriate and complete citations, even for websites and people you consult.  Do a Google search for ‘APA style’ or see Ch. 8 of Hendricks, http://libraryweb.utep.edu/db/citing.cfm, etc.

Presentation of Research Paper (15%):  You will give an oral presentation of your paper at or

before our scheduled final exam day (May 5) under time constraints to be announced. 

The presentation (i.e., visual aids, spoken content, and responses to questions) will be

assessed on clarity and appropriateness for the audience. See tips for oral presentations.

Attendance:  Subject to change if required by UTEP policy, your final course average will have

2 – 3U – E points added to it, where U = number of unexcused absences and E = number

of excused absences.  This reflects how crucial participation is for a course with “beyond-the-book” discussion, but without penalizing someone with ≤ 2 (excused) absences.


Class Policies:

ú         Attendance is required (be sure to sign the sign-in sheet!).  Late arrival, early departure, or blatant nonparticipation will be counted as a half-absence or even a full absence, depending on what is missed.  Give me a written note or email by February 4 if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused).  

ú         If you miss an exam or other deadline without an approved excuse relayed at the earliest opportunity to the instructor, that score will be a 0. Late work is not accepted, and may be subject to a penalty in the rare case it is. If you miss a class, it’s your responsibility to (1) have a classmate give you copies of notes, handouts and announcements (and turn in any work), AND (2) inform me (by email and/or voicemail) for that class that you will miss at the earliest opportunity, especially if the absence might be “excused.” Do not expect me later to recreate for you everything that happened or have with me in class all previous handouts.      

ú         UTEP Catalog says, “When in the judgment of the instructor, a student has been absent to such a degree as to impair his or her status relative to credit for the course, the instructor may drop the student from the class with a grade of “W” before the course drop deadline [March 20] and with a grade of “F” after the course drop deadline.” 

ú         For your protection, emailed inquiries about confidential information (e.g., grades) must be from your UTEP account and accompanied by your 800 number.


Professionalism:   Along with basic standards of citizenship (e.g., “Student Conduct” and “Disruptive Acts Policy” in the UTEP Catalog), students in this course are required to have a collaborative attitude and professionalism.  This includes using discretion with cell phones and beepers during class time—if you are truly expecting an urgent call, please let me know, use “vibrate mode,” and sit near the door to minimize disruption.  Or you could give your family member or child care provider the phone number for the Bell Hall ACES lab station: 747-8814 (it’s open until 8pm).  That way, you can keep your phone off during class, knowing that staff can quickly get you if there is an emergency.  Be open to using or sharing opportunities for professional growth beyond this class.  We all expect to learn from you, too!


Academic Integrity:  As teachers, I trust that you especially appreciate that cheating, plagiarism and collusion in dishonest activities are serious acts which erode the university’s purpose and integrity.  It is expected that work you submit will represent your own effort (or your own group’s effort, if it is a group project), will not involve copying from or accessing unauthorized resources or people (e.g., from a previous year’s class), and will appropriately acknowledge (with complete citations) allowable references that you do consult. Also, don’t resubmit work completed for other classes without specific acknowledgment and permission from us.  Violations are unacceptable and are required to be referred to the Dean of Students Office for possible disciplinary action.  (see course #20004 at compliance.utep.edu/training/reviewing.aspx)

For Group Work:  Within a group, members are allowed to divide up subsets of the project for which individuals will take the initial responsibility for coordinating efforts, but it is required that by the time a group turns in a writeup that all members have read, discussed, and understand all parts of what is being turned in.  Group members may even discuss general ideas and strategies with members of other groups, but NOT share parts of actual written work.  At a minimum, to be safe, put away all written notes and writing materials and recording devices before having any intergroup conversations.  And if you still see a “gray area,” play it safe and ask the instructor!


Disabilities: If you have or believe you have a disability that will require accommodations or modifications, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO; 747-5148; East Union Building room 108; dss@utep.edu; www.utep.edu/dsso/)

to show documentation or register for testing and services.  DSSO will ask you to discuss needed accommodations with me within the first week of the course or as soon as disability is known, and at least 5 working days before an exam.  DSSO provides note taking, sign language, interpreter, reader and/or scribe services, priority registration, adaptive technology, diagnostic testing for learning disabilities, assistance with learning strategies/tutoring, alternative testing location and format, and advocacy.  All information provided to DSSO is kept confidential.


Useful Links

ú         Guidelines for requesting approval for conducting research in school districts:

                 http://www.math.utep.edu/Student/iagut/     or


ú         UTEP’s Institutional Review Board: http://research.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=47162

             (e.g., on the Research Protocol Form, you would be the PI and I could be the SP;

                (also, see course #20001 at compliance.utep.edu/training/reviewing.aspx)



ú         This syllabus is at: http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/2nd5360.html


ú         Resource for how to cite: http://libraryweb.utep.edu/db/citing.cfm


ú         Search engine for scholarship: http://scholar.google.com/ 

ú         Search engine for scholarship in education: http://www.eric.ed.gov/

ú         To search dissertations, enter the keyword “dissertations” at http://libraryweb.utep.edu/db/index.cfm

ú         Search engine for papers in certain areas within mathematics/statistics education:




ú         Many articles are available in via the UTEP library (http://lib.utep.edu/screens/mainmenu.html) or through sites such as www.jstor.org

ú         http://books.google.com and http://www.worldcat.org


ú         Journals that publish mathematics education research: http://math.la.asu.edu/~hauk/arume/journals.html and




ú         Some resources and journals for qualitative research and/or action research:




















     http://www.surveymonkey.com/  et al.