Alan Schoenfeld

“Teaching for Mathematical Sense-Making”

Presented By: Alan Schoenfeld, Professor, Cognition and Development, Berkeley Graduate School of Education
Monday, November 26, 2012 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Abstract: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. I’ll also discuss the Common Core State Standards, which aim for sense-making, and the two national assessment consortia Smarter Balanced and PARCC, which will be testing students’ proficiency. Is there synergy, or the opposite?

Bio: Schoenfeld’s research deals with thinking, teaching, and learning. His book Mathematical Problem Solving characterized what it means to think mathematically and described a research-based undergraduate course in mathematical problem solving. Schoenfeld led the Balanced Assessment project and was one of the leaders of the NSF-sponsored center for Diversity in Mathematics Education. He was lead author for grades 9-12 of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. He was one of the founding editors of Research in Collegiate Mathematics Education, and has served as associate editor of Cognition and Instruction. He has served as senior advisor to the Educational Human Resources Directorate of the National Science Foundation, and senior content advisor to the What Works Clearinghouse.

Schoenfeld’s research focus has been the construction of a theory of human decision making, the key question being “How and why do people make the decisions they do, in the midst of complex activities such as teaching?” His book How we think: A theory of goal-oriented decision making and its educational applications describes the theory and establishes a framework for thinking about issues of teachers’ professional growth and development. Schoenfeld’s current projects (the Algebra Teaching Study, funded by NSF; the Mathematics Assessment Project, funded by the Gates Foundation; and work with the San Francisco Unified School District under the auspices of the National Research Council’s SERP project) all focus on understanding and enhancing mathematics teaching and learning.