Visit by Alan Schoenfeld

On October 10-12, 2012, Alan Schoenfeld from the University of California at Berkeley visited Umeå Mathematics Education Research Centre (UMERC). During his visit, he participated in different seminars and worked together with members of UMERC.

Alan Schoenfeld was the first invited researcher for the Hans Wallin Lectures.


Wednesday, October 10
13.15-15.00, room N430

"How we think: A Theory of Human Decision-Making, with a Focus on Teaching"

Is it possible to build a theory that characterizes mathematical problem solving, tutoring, and teaching – and a few other things like cooking and medical diagnosis? That is the focus of this talk.

For the past 30 years I have been developing a theory of how people make decisions “in the moment” as they engage in complex activities. Here are the major questions I ask:

Suppose a person is engaged in a complex activity, such as teaching. What determines what that person does, on a moment-by-moment basis, as he or she engages in that activity? What resources does the person draw upon, and why? What shapes the choices the person makes? What accounts for the effectiveness (in problem solving, the success or failure) of that person’s efforts?

I claim that if you know enough about a teacher’s knowledge, goals, and beliefs, you can explain every decision he or she makes, in the midst of teaching. I will give examples, showing what shaped teachers’ decision-making, and I will explain the theory. I will also show how these ideas have implications for how to help teachers to become better mathematics teachers.

Thursday, October 11
15.15-17.00, room N320

"Teaching for Mathematical Sense-Making"

Part of what I love about mathematics is how beautifully it fits together – that when you think about it in the right ways, the concepts and procedures we teach all make sense, and the formal mathematics brings it all together.

In this talk I will give some examples of how mathematics can be viewed as a form of sense-making, and of what happens when it is not. I will discuss some lessons we have been building, which help to focus on student thinking and build productively on it; and I will discuss a framework we have been developing for focusing on productive behaviors in mathematics classrooms.

Alan Schoenfeld

Alan Schoenfeld is the Elizabeth and Edward Conner Professor of Education and Affiliated Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Educational Research Association, and a Laureate of the education honor society Kappa Delta Pi. Schoenfeld has served as President of the American Educational Research Association and vice president of the National Academy of Education. In 2008 he was given the Senior Scholar Award by AERA’s Special Interest Group for Research in Mathematics Education. In 2011 he was awarded the International Commission on Mathematics Instruction’s Klein Medal, the highest international distinction in mathematics education.

Soon after obtaining his Ph.D. in mathematics from Stanford, Schoenfeld turned his attention to issues of mathematical thinking, teaching, and learning. His work has focused on problem solving (what makes people good problem solvers, and how can people get better at it?), assessment, teachers’ decision-making, and issues of equity and diversity, with the goal of making meaningful mathematics truly accessible to all students. His current work focuses on understanding teaching practices in powerful mathematics classrooms.

Alan has written, edited, or co-edited more than two hundred pieces on thinking and learning, including twenty-two books. His most recent book, How we Think, provides detailed models of human decision making in complex situations such as teaching.

Page Editor: Tomas Bergqvist

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