A Framework for Research and Curriculum Development in Undergraduate Mathematics Education

Research in Collegiate Mathematics Education II
Asiala, M., Brown, A., DeVries, D. J., Dubinsky, E., Mathews, D., Thomas, K.
Jim Kaput et al.

Over the past several years, a community of researchers has been using and refining a particular framework for research and curriculum development in undergraduate mathematics education. The purpose of this paper is to share the results of this work with the mathematics education community at large by describing the current version of the framework and giving some examples of its application.<br>Our framework utilizes qualitative methods for research and is based on a very specific theoretical perspective that is being developed through attempts to understand the ideas of Piaget concerning reflective abstraction and reconstruct them in the context of college level mathematics. Our approach has three components. It begins with an initial theoretical analysis of what it means to understand a concept and how that understanding can be constructed by the learner. This leads to the design of an instructional treatment that focuses directly on trying to get students to make the constructions called for by the analysis. Implementation of instruction leads to the gathering of data, which is then analyzed in the context of the theoretical perspective. The researchers cycle through the three components and refine both the theory and the instructional treatments as needed.<br>In this report the authors present detailed descriptions of each of these components. In our discussion of theoretical analyses, we describe certain mental constructions for learning mathematics, including actions, processes, objects, and schemas, and the relationships among these constructions. Under instructional treatment, we describe the components of the ACE teaching style (activities, class discussion, and exercises), cooperative learning and the use of a mathematical programming language. Finally, we describe the methodology used in data collectoin and analysis. The paper concludes with a discussion of issues raised in the use of this framework, followed by an extensive bibliography.