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Kenneth J. Travers
342 Armory Bldg.
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Fax: (217) 333 2605

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Curriculum and Instruction 430

Problems and Trends in Mathematics Education

This course surveys current problems, issues and trends in mathematics education in an era of reform. There are these main parts to the course:

  1. An overview of the literature in mathematics education reform, both in terms of research and practice, in learning, teaching and curriculum
  2. Identification of key issues in reform, as they emerge from 1)
  3. In response to 1) and 2), the development of a piece of curriculum for the ‘Illinois Virtual School’. There are on the web various 'virtual schools'. See, for example, http://vhs.concord.org/home.htm .
  4. The preparation of three ‘white papers’, one on each of learning, teaching and curriculum, respectively.
  5. Participation in a ‘book club’ wherein you will select one well-known book that has to do with education, broadly defined. A report on your book is due by mid-semester.
  6. The development of your own home page. The idea is that your home page provides not only information about you as a person, but it gives ideas and insights about you as an emerging mathematics educator.

  7. Please note: technology is not specifically mentioned in any of the above. That is because it is assumed that the influence of technology will permeate the work of each. Your materials, however, should make the roles of technology explicit.
  8. Portfolio of work. Throughout this course, you will be asked to put together a portfolio of your work. Much (nearly all) of this work will be in electronic form, so plan now how you will organize and present it. As a final, summarizing activity, at the last class meeting, you will be asked to prepare an essay that provides an overview of your work, and of your ideas about teaching and learning as they have evolved in this course.

These main resources will be used:
  • Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
  • Mathematics Teacher
  • Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning
  • World Wide Web
  • NCTM Professional Standards for School Mathematics 2000

  • www.nctm.org
  • Illinois Learning Standards

  • http://www.isbe.state.il.us/ils
  • Fitzsimmons, et al. Eds. Teacher Enhancement for Elementary and Secondary Science and Mathematics: Status, Issues and Problems. National Science Foundation, 1992. (I will provide in photocopy.)

Curriculum Project

This is a two phase process: (1) You and your Book Club team (see below) are to draft an entire curriculum for the grade level to which you are assigned. This is a rather general statement, taking into account major recommendations for that grade level of the NCTM PSSM (Professional Standards for School Mathematics). (2) You individually are to develop a four week (approximately) curriculum module that takes into account the major issues and trends developed in this course. This assignment, as all others, is to be web-based.

White papers

A white paper is a position, or a policy statement that summarizes the goals, rationale and content of each of the three themes (learning, teaching, curriculum). Due dates given below.
The basic structure of the white paper is:
  • Statement of problem (or issue or theme )
  • Development of problem
  • Summarizing comments.
  • Bibliography (at least 4 citations, using APA format)

It is difficult to specify a length for the paper. It need not be lengthy, but should be long enough to adequately deal with the issue at hand. About 3 to 4 pages (600-800 words) should do it.
Each of your white papers should make at least one explicit reference, in turn, to
a) at least one of these resource documents:
NCTM Standards; Illinois Learning Standards
b) at least one of these documents:
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Handbook for Research on the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics, NSF report (chapters)
c) at least one of these:
Mathematics Teacher, or some other journal dedicated to the teaching of mathematics
d) the book that you are reviewing for Book Club

Book Club

The purpose of this activity is to acquaint you with one well known book outside of mathematics education and relate its major ‘story line’ with the themes of this course.
Three books have been ordered through the bookstores: Katz; Holt; Kozol. It is not required that you select one of these books, but these are excellent candidates for you to consider.
There will be five teams in the book club, organized roughly by the grade level of interest of the class members. These teams will be formed during the first two weeks of class. Each team is expected to meet on its own, read the selected book, discuss it, and prepare a report (to be outlined later).

Grading policy:

I have not yet decided whether there will be a final exam. So for the time being, each of the five components referred to above will be weighted as follows for the final grade:

Curriculum project 20
White papers (3 @ 10 ea.) 30
Book club 20
Home page 5
Portfolio 15
Misc. 10

Course schedule: subject to change:

August 30: Attend talk by Dr. Sunley, NSF.

Wednesday, August 30  at 4 PM 245 Altgeld Hall (might be changed, watch for announcement). We will then meet afterwards to discuss her talk. Your assignment: What did her talk have to say about: (1) mathematics learning; (2) mathematics teaching; (3) mathematics curriculum.

Other agenda for August 30
  1. Introductions
  2. MSTE Website: www.mste.uiuc.edu
  3. Visit the class project for CI 430, spring 1999, on the Whitehead Learning Center at:
  4. http://www.mste.uiuc.edu/courses/ci430sp99/default.html
  5. International studies of mathematics achievement.

  6. http://www.mste.uiuc.edu/presentations/timss/sims/
  7. NSF Report readings (handouts):

  8. Peterson (Chapter Six) Mestre (Chapter Three)
  9. Whitehead. Aims of Education.
  10. Create an MS Word document that tells about yourself. Then drag and drop this document into the folder that has been prepared for you at the course website.
         The message about you should include:
  11. Your full name, home address and phone number
    Name of your school, phone number, and best hours (if any) to reach you
    Your degree program (if any) at UIUC
    Your highest degree; where received
    Field of specialization for that degree (e.g. teaching of secondary school mathematics)
  12. Write a brief reaction to the Whitehead Center.

September 6

  1. International studies
  2. Issues in learning
  3. Outline of WP I: learning

September 13

  1. Learning
  2. Early ideas on curriculum project

September 20

  1. Ann Brown, on learning
  2. Early progress report from Book Clubs

September 27

  1. White Paper I is due
  2. Teaching

  3. NSF Report: Shavelson (Chapter 5)
     Cooney (Chapter 8)
  4. Book Clubs report

October 4

  1. Progress report on curriculum project
  2. Research on teaching

October 11

  1. WP II is due

October 25

  1. Curriculum
  2. NSF Report: Romberg (Chapter 7)

November 1

  1. Models for curriculum implementation
  2. NSF-funded curriculum projects

November 8

  1. WP III is due

November 15

  1. Progress report on Curriculum Project

November 29

Final presentations