Summer 2007                                          Math 5360                       CRN 32270           

Introduction to Research in Mathematics Education

WELCOME!  ¡BIENVENIDOS!             Tuesday, May 29, 2007


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 familiarity with research in mathematics education

ú          Learn the process for conducting research (e.g., searching the literature, IRB process)

ú          Write a mathematics education research paper in an area that interests you



When:     May 29 – June 22: MTWTh from 10 am -12:45 pm (includes 15-minute break),

               with the final meeting on Friday June 22 from 10 am -12:45 pm

Where:    Worrell Hall 204 Bell Hall 143


Required Textbook and Materials: 

ú         Hendricks, Cher (2006) Improving Schools through Action Research, Boston: Pearson.

ú         Sowder, Judith & Schappelle, Bonnie (2002), Lessons Learned from Research.

    Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

ú         Selected articles (e.g., see reading list)




ú         Dr. Larry Lesser, Associate Professor: 

Office:                 Bell Hall 213
Office Hours:       12:45pm – 1:45pm after his classes (or by appointment)
Phone:                 747-6845




ú         Dr. Kien Lim, Assistant Professor:             

Office:                 Bell Hall 301
Office Hours:       12:45pm – 1:45pm after his classes (or by appointment)

Phone:                 747-6772



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

Assignments on Selected Readings (25%)

ú         Email your assignment to Dr. Lim before the next class

ú         Almost all the items in these assignments require you to think and reflect. A good response is one that contains essential points but concise. A long response with little reflection will earn a very low score. 

Midterm Exam (25%) currently scheduled for June 13, depending on pace of course;

ú         Questions based on material (chapters 1-7) in the Hendricks textbook, as well as on ideas from assigned articles and in-class discussions

Research Paper (50%) – due June 22 on a topic connected to the teaching and learning of mathematics (or statistics); general topics such as ‘technology’, ‘group work’ or ‘gender issues’ are acceptable only if explicitly explored in the context of mathematics teaching and learning.  If you’re unsure, ask us! 

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 satisfy the UTEP IRB’s Research Protocol Form and the form your school district may use (see Useful Links at end of the syllabus).

ú         Your paper must be written in APA style (American Psychological Association, 5th edition) with appropriate and complete citations.  See Chapter 8 of Hendricks, search for ‘APA Style’ in Google, etc.

ú         Paper is due at the beginning of our “final exam day” (10am, Friday, June 22), and each student will give a brief oral presentation on his/her paper.  (The oral presentation will not be graded, per se, but will be taken into account along with attendance in the event a student’s grade ends up falling just shy of a letter grade cutoff.)

ú         Your research paper will be graded by both instructors.


Course Organization: 

ú         The meetings for this course are divided between the two instructors, using the following schedule (subject to modification by instructors as needed):

o       Dr. Lesser:   May 29, 30, 31;  June 5, 7, 11, 13, 19, 22

o       Dr. Lim:      May 29; June 4,  6, 12, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22

ú         Homework assigned by an instructor will be due by the beginning of the next class led by that same instructor, unless otherwise announced.

ú         Some materials and announcements may be sent via email, so it is important to check your email daily.


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. 

ú         Recall the rule of thumb that you are expected to put in two hours of study time for every hour of class time – it’s important to pace yourself and set aside the time necessary.

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.

ú         Late work will not be accepted, and may be subject to a penalty in the rare case that it might be accepted. 

ú         If you miss a class, it’s your responsibility to

o       have a classmate give you copies of notes, handouts and announcements (and turn in any work), and

o       inform the instructor (by email and/or voicemail) for that class that you will miss at the earliest opportunity, especially if the absence might be “excused”.

ú         Give Dr. Lesser a written note or email during the first week of the course if you will have absence for religious holy days (which are excused).  

ú         As the 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 [June 11] and with a grade of “F” after the course drop deadline.”  For this course, two or more unexcused absences may result in an instructor-initiated drop. 


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 display 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 the instructor know 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.  That way, you can keep your phone off during class, knowing that lab staff can quickly come around the corner to get you if there is a true emergency.  Be open to using or sharing opportunities for professional growth beyond this class.  We expect to learn from you, too!

In terms of written assignments, professionalism includes that all assignments 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 an identification coversheet on top. 


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. 

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;; 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 strictly confidential.


TOPICS:  Articles and topics covered have been selected to support the goals of preparing you to analyze and later conduct classroom research and are subject to further refinement or modification by instructors to take into account interests, backgrounds, resource availability, logistics, scheduling/sequencing issues, and balance between depth and breadth:


Schedule for classes led by Dr. Lesser (subject to change by instructor as needed)

May 29 (Tues)

No assignment is due (First day of class)

May 30 (Wed.)

Due today: be prepared to discuss Wentzel paper, and Chapter 1 & 2 in Hendricks;

May 31 (Thurs)

Due today: be prepared to discuss delMas et al. paper, and Hendricks Chapter 3, Activity 2.1 & Activity 2.2; today you will hand in Activity 1.2 for one AR study (e.g., the delMas paper or one of your choice)

June 5 (Tues)

Due today: be prepared to discuss Shaughnessy chapter, Garfield/Ahlgren paper, and Hendricks Chapter 4

June 7 (Thurs)

Due today: be prepared to Discuss Hendricks Chapters 5&6 and be prepared to hand in Activity 5.1 & Activity 6.1

June 11 (Mon)

Due today: be prepared to discuss Hendricks Chapters 7&8

June 13 (Wed)

Midterm Exam is today, followed by Q&A about research papers

June 19 (Tues)

to be announced

June 22 (Fri)

Research Paper turned in and orally presented


Selected Articles for Dr. Lesser’s Classes

delMas, Robert C., Garfield, Joan, & Chance, Beth L. (1999), A model of classroom research in action:

Developing simulation activities to improve students’ statistical reasoning. Journal of Statistics Education, 7(3),

Garfield, Joan and Ahlgren, Andrew (1988), Difficulties in Learning Basic Concepts in Probability and

Statistics: Implications for Research, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 19(1), 44-63.

Shaughnessy, J. Michael (2007). Research on Statistics Learning and Reasoning. In Frank K. Lester, Jr.

(Ed.) Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning, pp. 957-1009. 

Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  [on reserve at UTEP library]

Wentzel, Kathryn R.  Developing and Nurturing Interesting and Researchable Ideas (2005).  In Cliftton

F. Conrad and Ronald C. Serlin (Eds.), Sage Handbook for Research in Education: Engaging ideas and enriching inquiry, pp. 315-330.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Schedule of Paper Discussion for classes led by Dr. Lim

    (Assignments are due on day of discussion; e-mail them to Lim before you come to class)

May 29 (Tues)

No assignment is due (First day of class)

June 4 (Mon)

ú         Robinson (2006)

ú         Harel & Sowder (2005)

June 6 (Wed)

ú         Booth (1988)

June 12 (Tues)

ú         Fujii (2003)

June 14 (Thurs)

ú         Sowder & Harel (1998)

ú         Lessons Learned from Research: Chapter 22 (Healy & Hoyles)

June 18 (Mon)

ú         Lessons Learned from Research: Chapter 9 (Battista)

ú         Kim & Kasmer (2007)

June 20 (Wed)

ú         Ball, D. L. (1992)

ú         Lessons Learned from Research: Chapter 3 (Noble et al.)

June 21 (Thurs)

ú         Schoenfeld (1988)

ú         Lessons Learned from Research: Chapter 12 (Pesek & Kirsher)

June 22 (Fri)

Research Paper turned in and orally presented


Selected Articles for Dr. Lim’s Classes

Ball, D. L. (1992). Magical hopes: Manipulatives and the reform of math education. American Educator, 16, 14-18 & 46-47.

Booth, L. R. (1988). Children’s difficulties in beginning algebra. In A.F. Coxford (Ed.), The ideas of algebra, K-12: 1988 Yearbook (pp. 20-32). Reston, VA: NCTM.

Fujii, T. (2003). Probing studentsrsquo understanding of variables through cognitive conflict problems: Is the concept of a variable so difficult for students to understand? Proceedings of the 2003 Joint Meeting of PME and PMENA, Vol. 1, Honolulu, HI, USA, pp. 49–65.

Harel, G., & Sowder, L. (2005). Advanced mathematical thinking: Its nature and its development. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 7(1), 27-50.

Kim, O. K., & Kasmer, L. (2007). Using “prediction” to promote mathematical reasoning. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 12(6). pp. 294-299.

Robinson, H. J. (2006). Using research to analyze, inform, and assess changes in instruction. In L. R. Van Zoest (Ed.), Teachers engaged in research: Inquiry into mathematics classrooms, Grades 9-12, pp. 59-73. Reston, VA: NCTM.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (1988). When good teaching leads to bad results: The disasters of “well-taught” mathematics courses. Educational Psychologist, 23(2), 145-166.

Sowder, L., & Harel, G. (1998). Types of students’ justifications. Mathematics Teacher, 91(8), 670-675.


Useful Links

ú         Search engine for articles in education:

ú         Search engine for papers in certain areas of mathematics education:


ú         Search engine for papers in probability/statistics education:                                                     

ú         Search engine for scholarly work:

ú         Journals that publish mathematics education research: and

ú         Many articles are available in via the UTEP library or through sites such as

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


ú         UTEP’s Institutional Review Board (IRB):

ú         This syllabus is at: