Author Archives: Richard Thiessen
This blog post is being written from Tucson, Arizona, where Tiffany Friesen, Paul Reimer, and I are attending the annual conference of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. The approximately 600 men and women attending this conference are almost exclusively university professors along with their graduate students, and, of course, their research interest is mathematics education. Last year was the first time I attended this conference, which I did together with Tiffany, and it was here that we for the first time met Katy Ulrich, Andy Norton, Amy Hackenberg, Eric Tillema, Jay Wilkins, and Beth MacDonald. While meeting six people at a conference might not seem like such a big deal, for me it was monumental and was the beginning of the fulfillment of a dream that is an essential part of the vision for the AIMS Center for Mathematics and Science Education.
From the early thinking about the Center, there was the hope, maybe it was a dream, that perhaps one day we would not only be translating research, but would be interacting with the researchers. That dream is coming true! That meeting a year ago at PME led to Katy Ulrich, Andy Norton, and Beth MacDonald, each at different times during this past spring, coming to California to meet with us at the Center. It gets even better. Three weeks ago, Dr. Les Steffe, Katy and Andy’s major professor on their doctoral programs at the University of Georgia, came to spend several days with us to talk about his research program and to help us to think about how we might go about translating that research. His willingness to connect with us, to share his thoughts with us, and to give his affirmation and support for what we are doing is priceless.
Now, here in Tucson, a year after first meeting Katy, Andy, Amy, Eric, Jay, and Beth, we met Ron Tzur, another former doctoral student of Steffe’s who is at the University of Colorado and who, together with two of his own doctoral students, made conference presentations involving research that is building on the work of Dr. Steffe. As part of their work, Dr. Tzur and his students are building a model for translating their research into practice. They have welcomed us to spend some time with them in Denver beginning this next spring to observe their work and to think with them about how their work and what they are learning might inform and support what we are doing at the Center. We are tremendously encouraged by the involvement of, and our connection with, these researchers. What an honor to have them working with us to help us more deeply understand their work and for them to think with us about translating their work into classroom practice. It’s a dream that is coming true!
In previous blog posts we have, in various ways, talked about the commitment of the AIMS Center to a constructivist understanding of how children come to know. There are several reasons for this choice, but probably the most relevant is that the most significant and extensive research related to how children come to know whole… Continue Reading
One day several years ago while interacting with our two little grandchildren who were then 3 or 4 years of age and 4 or 5 years of age, respectively, I presented the younger one with a collection of eight blocks, and asked, “How many blocks are there on the table in front of you?” He… Continue Reading
The Research Division of the AIMS Center is organized into four teams, of which three teams are presently focused on research related to how children come to know number. Our ultimate goal is to translate that research into classroom practice. The theory base underlying the research we are following is what might be called a… Continue Reading
The members of the Early Math Team at the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education are Research Associates Jason Chamberlain, Liz Gamino, Wilma Hashimoto, and Aileen Rizo, along with myself, Senior Researcher, Richard Thiessen. We are really excited to be working with preschool children in partnership with Fresno EOC Head Start. This year we… Continue Reading
The last post in this series about AIMS—past, present, and future—ended with the statement that in the next post I would talk about a vision for AIMS that would involve translating research into practice. In a sense, that is what AIMS has been doing over the years–but in a very general way–by exploring ways to… Continue Reading
In my previous post I talked about where AIMS came from, what AIMS has been doing over these past more than 30 years, and what it continues to do. In this post I want to talk a bit about the underlying understanding about how children come to know concepts of mathematics that has guided AIMS… Continue Reading
This post is the first of several that will outline some new directions for AIMS. Here I would simply like to give you a bit history. Some of you will know that AIMS is an outgrowth of the Graduate Math/Science Program at Fresno Pacific University. The AIMS Education Foundation got its start as the result… Continue Reading
In my last post, Tangrams: A World of Geometry, Part Two, I talked about the thirteen convex polygon shapes that can be formed with the seven tangram pieces. In the video, I showed how to make five of them, and then I left a challenge for you to look for the remaining eight convex shapes.… Continue Reading
I just started reading Fractions in Realistic Mathematics Education by Leen Streefland, and there, on page 5, Streefland gives as an example an old puzzle problem that I remember giving my students more than 40 years ago. “An old Arab, Anwar his name, decreed before he died that his eldest son inherit one-half, his second… Continue Reading