Research Issues and Practices on Mathematics Education

Written by :

Fatmawati, S. Si, M. Ed

In the late of ninetieth century, mathematics education research has been static and is not providing much needed direction for our future to growth. It seems like they did not answer the important questions and address real problems. Furthermore, the influence from social, cultural, economic, and political factors impact research endeavour that continue to be fuelled by opposing value held by stakeholders. For instance; severe cuts in education budgets in the past decade impact heavily on mathematics research that required researchers to seek financial support from independent body.

The widespread survey of  research in mathematics education identified many emerging issue that are impacting on the mathematics teacher research field such as the dominance of small-scale qualitative research which reflect the increasing complexity of classroom research. Other important issues that greater attention include teacher learning outside of ‘reform’ context, how and what teachers learn from experience, how teachers are learning to deal directly with inequality and diversity in their mathematics teaching, and the consequences of ‘scaling up’ programs to multiple instructional sites.

Regarding to theory development, in the past decade, mathematics education research field has been criticized for its lack of focus, its diverging theoretical perspectives and a continued identity crisis. Therefore, a research Forum on Theories of Mathematics Education was organized to stimulate critical debate in the area of theory use and theory development. Moreover, at present days, advance of new technologies emerge a sophisticated transformation of mathematics education and research to engage into higher planes of development, likewise increased globalization of mathematics education in numerous aspects, including curriculum development and the nature of research. However, the effective use of new technologies does not happen automatically and will not replace mathematics itself.

In the 21st century, the issues concerning to mathematics education research highlight the increasing need to address research methodologies and paradigms, professional growth as mathematics educators, link with practices, and approach to dissemination. As a long term issues, the implementation and dissemination research, however the researchers are not addressing issues that focus on shaping practice, rather their issues focus on practice as an object of research. Essentially, research in mathematics education must aim for a greater conceptual contribution to the field. In detail research that makes a difference to both theory and practice.

Nowadays, current issues on mathematics education research can be grouped according to learners, teachers, learning contexts and learning environment.

  • Issues related to learners:

Determine the key understanding, skills, and reasoning that students need to be succeed and to what extent they can apply and develop the skills, how we facilitate students learning as well as theoretical models to encourage student to develop.

  • Issues related to teachers:

Determine key topic that should be addressed in depth; what conceptual models, technologies, principles, and reasoning processes exist or are needed to deal with this topics. What strategies they can use to facilitate student learning and what kind of research can be applied regarding to extension understanding and strategies as well as the implication for perceive teacher education and professional development.

  • Issues related to learning context

Determine mathematical tools and representation including computational media to promote student’ access, how to implement these tools and research that needed. What respect to program development as well as innovative instructional program have been designed to promote life-long assess to powerful mathematics.

  • Issues related to learning environment

Determine the kind of environment that can promote and encourage students to develop, test, extend, or refine their own increasingly powerful understanding, what recent research in learning environment in other discipline offer mathematics education as well as theoretical models with respect to issues related to learning context.

International Issues and Trends

International mathematics education research is united in addressing the aftermath of the recent international testing, as evidence, for example, in the ICME 10 Program Committee’s creation of an international Survey Team on Relation between Mathematics Education Research and Practice.  The survey is also addressed to the issue on mathematics education research that lack in support and attention from government.

Regarding to globalization, it’s need collaboration of researches from different countries in order to find what should be emphasize on mathematics education researches as well as to reduce the gap between researchers and practitioners. Therefore, researchers are required to focus on the real practices.

In general, critical issues in math education are considered into four fields; life-long democratic access to powerful ideas advances on research methodologies, influences of advanced technologies, and advances on theories development. All of them should relate to learners, teachers and learning contexts.

Furthermore, the international researcher should able to determine the effectiveness of technology that can be applied and suit with the context of learning and how to deal with 21st century skills.

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