Dr. Marta Magiera
Associate Professor, Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science
A major grant aims to help teachers understand, and leverage, how children think and talk about math Interpreting and responding to students’ mathematical arguments is a critical element of mathematics teachers’ work. Dr. Marta Magiera, a nationally recognized researcher of mathematics education, is seeking ways to improve the education of future middle school teachers, helping prospective teachers become proficient in understanding how students share mathematical ideas. “Mathematics teachers need to know the mathematics they teach, but they also have to be able to make sense of mathematics expressed by their students,” she says. That idea garnered Magiera, associate professor of mathematics, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the most prestigious recognition for junior faculty members in fields supported by the NSF. The award provides research funding for faculty who exemplify their organization’s mission by integrating education and research. Supported by $792,000 in NSF funding, Magiera’s five-year project will study how to best enhance prospective teachers’ understanding of mathematical argumentation in elementary and middle school mathematics.
More specifically, her research will examine prospective teachers’ abilities to formulate mathematical arguments; analyze and critique mathematical arguments constructed by elementary and middle school students; and recognize situations that have the potential to engage K–8 students in formulating and critiquing mathematical arguments. Understanding these factors will allow mathematics teacher-educators to create richer learning experiences for prospective teachers and enhance their preparation for making mathematical argumentation an integral aspect of K–8 mathematics instruction. “Research shows middle school mathematics is a critical time for students to engage and gain proficiency in constructing mathematic arguments and justifications,” Magiera says. Once completed, she will present her research at conferences, in journal articles, and on a website where classroom activities and other relevant materials will be available to college professors to use as they instruct future teachers. WYATT MASSEY, ARTS ’16
research in brief