The First Year of “On Teaching and Learning Mathematics”

By Benjamin Braun, Editor-in-Chief, University of Kentucky

It has been one year since On Teaching and Learning Mathematics launched, so it seems an appropriate time for reflection.  As I re-read the 36 articles we have published over the past twelve months, five prominent themes emerged that I will discuss below: teaching practices; bridges between K-12 and postsecondary education; expanding visions of mathematics education; the voices of students; and research, communication, and policy.  If you have not had a chance to read all of our articles during the past twelve months, or if you have done so and would like to revisit them from a new perspective, this is my guide to the first year of our blog.

Teaching Practices.  One major theme of our blog over the past year has been the importance of interactions between students and teachers, particularly in classroom settings.  From reflections on experimenting with varied pedagogical methods, to descriptions of interesting activities for students, to consideration of the role of broad student learning outcomes, the following articles provide many ideas that teachers can use to create quality interactions and engagement with students.

Bridges Between K-12 and Postsecondary Education.  What happens in K-12 education is important to postsecondary mathematics teachers for several reasons.   Since postsecondary students are products of the K-12 system, what happens at the K-12 level has a clear impact on postsecondary mathematics education.  Postsecondary mathematics educators have influence on the K-12 system, since K-12 teachers receive specialized mathematics content instruction in postsecondary classes.  Further, core mathematical ideas and concepts transcend the K-12 to postsecondary divide, providing rich ground for making mathematical connections at all levels.  The following articles address aspects of these issues and more.

Expanding Visions of Mathematics Education.  Many of our articles emphasize the need to expand our vision of what it means to teach, learn, and use mathematics.  Some of the following articles explore ways in which students’ and professors’ expectations of each other and themselves affect mathematical teaching and learning, while others meditate on the purpose and utility of mathematical knowledge and learning.

The Voices of Students.  An often-neglected aspect of mathematics education is the reality of the experiences of our students.  The following articles were written by students about their experiences, good and bad, providing teachers with a window into the world of mathematical learners.

Research, Communication, and Policy.  The final theme that stood out to me in our articles is the growing importance of postsecondary mathematics education research, communication among participants in the mathematics education community, and the impact of policies affecting higher education.  Postsecondary mathematics education is in a state of transformation, and the following articles give a sense of how this transformation is manifesting itself with regard to how we understand learning, how students experience mathematics courses, and expectations for mathematics departments at institutions of higher education.

To conclude this article, I would like to thank the other members of the editorial board and our many invited contributors for the time and effort they have invested in this blog.  All of our articles go through an editorial review process, meaning that every article we publish goes through multiple feedback/revision cycles.  I have greatly enjoyed reading these contributions and watching our readership grow.  I am looking forward to seeing what the future will bring!

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