Cognition and Learning in Mathematics Education

REESE investigators talked about their research approaches and findings. Topics included brain correlates of early mathematics skills, the role of language in number acquisition, cognitive development, trends in mathematics performance by gender, and the construction of learning and teaching in higher education. Presentations of REESE research included:

  • Bruce McCandliss,
  • Anna Shusterman, Language and the Acquisition of Number Concepts  [PDF]
  • Christine Massey, Integrating Meaningful Math into Preschool Science  [PDF]
  • Amy Ellis, Inductive and Deductive Reasoning: Finding a Path from Stop Signs and Fox Heads to Proof  [PDF]
  • Karen King, Examining the Mutual Construction of Learning and Teaching in University Mathematics Classrooms  [PDF]

A PDF of the evaluation form for this session can be found here.

About the Speakers

Robert Floden is a University Distinguished Professor of Teacher Education, Measurement & Quantitative Methods, and Educational Psychology at the Michigan State University College of Education. His research has examined the effects of education policies on teaching and learning, with a special emphasis on roles of preservice teacher preparation and professional development. He is currently Co-Director of an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral training program on the economics of education. He has served as editor of both Educational Researcher and the Review of Research in Education. Floden is a member of the National Academy of Education, served as president of the Philosophy of Education Society, was selected as an Alexander von Humbolt Fellow, and received the Margaret B. Lindsey Award for Distinguished Research in Teacher Education from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Floden’s work has been published in the Handbook of Research on Teaching, the Handbook of Research on Teacher Education, the Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning, and many journals and books. Current projects include development of assessments for teachers’ knowledge for algebra teaching and for observations of algebra teaching practice.

Bruce McCandliss is a Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. He received a Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Oregon. McCandliss studies developmental cognitive neuroscience, with an emphasis of questions of how the neural substrates of several cognitive abilities change via learning and education. His laboratory employs several diverse techniques to investigate cognitive change across development and learning, including training studies in adults and children, longitudinal research in school-age children, and naturalistic school-based studies observational and intervention studies. Changes in neural structure and function are measured primarily through functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging analysis of white matter tract structures, and high-density EEG recordings. Cognitive domains of central interest include reading/language development, numerical/mathematical cognitive development, and domain-general attention abilities.

Anna Shusterman is currently an Assistant Professor in the Psychology department at Wesleyan University. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University in 2006 and an Sc.B. in Neuroscience from Brown University in 1998. Shusterman is an active member in the Cognitive Development Society and Society for Research on Child Development. Her research focuses on interactions between language and cognitive development, particularly in the areas of spatial and numerical representations. She is the co-author of several articles, including "Reorientation and landmark-guided search in children: Evidence for two systems," published in Psychological Science in 2006; and "Language and the development of spatial reasoning," published in The Structure of the Innate Mind by Oxford University Press in 2005. Her current REESE project investigates the relationship between verbal counting and non-verbal numerical knowledge in hearing and deaf preschoolers.

Christine Massey is the Director of Research and Education at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the Director of PENNlincs, which serves as an outreach arm of the Institute, linking recent theory and research in cognitive science to education efforts in public schools and cultural institutions. She has directed a number of major collaborative research and development projects that combine research investigating students’ learning and conceptual development in science and math with the development and evaluation of new curriculum materials, learning technology, and educational programs for students and teachers. These projects include development of mathematics learning software that incorporates principles of perceptual learning; research on science learning and science curriculum development for the preschool and early elementary years; development of a robotics curriculum for the middle grades; and kits and exhibit enhancements to support family learning in zoos and museums. Massey received her B.A. from Wellesley College with honors in psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology with a specialization in cognitive development from the University of Pennsylvania. Massey is an Eisenhower Fellow and has also been a Fellow in the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education’s Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

Amy Ellis is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ellis studies students’ reasoning, particularly as it relates to mathematical generalization, justification, and proof, and the development of algebraic thinking. Her research has been supported by multiple NSF-funded projects focused on (a) examining the ways in which classroom environments influence students' mathematical generalizations, (b) studying students' inductive and deductive reasoning about problems in mathematics and the natural world, and (c) analyzing state assessment data to study girls’ and boys’ performance on mathematics items. Ellis was recently awarded the AERA Early Career Publication award in mathematics education for her work on the connections between generalization and justification in algebra.

Karen King is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture Education and Human Development, King received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, where she conducted research on undergraduate mathematics teacher thinking. Her current research focuses on the mathematics preparation of elementary and secondary teachers, the role of mathematical knowledge for teaching in the mathematical integrity of reform mathematics lessons, and the policies of mathematics teacher professional development. She is the principal investigator of two NSF-funded research grants focusing on: (1) understanding the mathematical preparation of future secondary teachers and (2) the how teachers use innovative middle school mathematics materials and its impact on student learning. She recently completed a three year term as a member of the Research Committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and serves on numerous committees focusing on research in mathematics education and teacher education with national organizations including the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.