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MSP News: Mathematics Instruction for Perseverance

May 21, 2015


NEWS IN BRIEF

NSF 2015 Teaching and Learning Video Showcase:Improving Science, Math, Engineering, and Computer Science Education
Thank you to all MSPnet members who presented videos, who served as facilitators, and who participated in the live showcase by commenting on work shared by colleagues. Even though the event is no longer "live" and you can no longer vote or comment, all videos and discussions will remain accessible on the site. If you did not get to visit during the event you can still do so. Presenters can use the URL of their video presentations to share it with others in the future. To date the videos were viewed over 20,000 times by people in 145 countries. That is quite a dissemination success. Congrats to all who participated.

1. NEW IN LIBRARY
This week we feature a collection of papers from the Spencer Foundation that represents a range of perspectives and conceptual frameworks for understanding perseverance in mathematics.
A. "When Not to Persevere - Nuances Related to Perseverance in Mathematical Problem Solving," Jon R. Star, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.
B. "Taking the Severe out of Perseverance: Strategies for Building Mathematical Determination," James A. Middleton, Michael A. Tallman, Neil Hatfield, Owen Davis, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.
C. "Learning Executive Function and Early Math," Douglas H. Clements, Julie Sarama, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.
D. "Cultural Considerations in Support of Mathematical Perseverance: The Role of Context Activation," Edd. V. Taylor, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.
E. "Black Learners' Perseverance With Mathematics: A Qualitative Metasynthesis," Robert Q. Berry III, Kateri Thunder, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.
F. "Beyond "You Can Do It!" - Developing Mathematical Perseverance in Elementary School," Hyman Bass, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

2. MSPnet BLOG
A. New Blog Post: Success and Charters (2): Evidence on Charter Impact
In this recent blog post, Brian Drayton continues discussing the topic of charter schools.

3. ANNOUNCEMENT
A. TEAMS Webinar Recording Available: What are better quasi-experimental practices for evaluating STEM education programs?
Presenter: Kelly Hallberg, University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab

DETAILS BELOW

1. NEW IN LIBRARY
This week we feature a collection of papers from the Spencer Foundation that represents a range of perspectives and conceptual frameworks for understanding perseverance in mathematics.

A. "When Not to Persevere - Nuances Related to Perseverance in Mathematical Problem Solving," Jon R. Star, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"While perseverance in mathematical problem solving has been of interest for some time, this construct is receiving renewed attention at present due in large part to its emphasis in the Mathematical Practices of the Common Core State Standards. In this paper, I consider nuances related to perseverance, particularly when persevering might be advantageous as well as when it might be inadvisable. In particular, I discuss the role of prior knowledge and metacognitive skills, the fine line between perseverance and stubbornness, and the importance of perceived task utility, in determining when perseverance is desirable in problem solving."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28127


B. "Taking the Severe out of Perseverance: Strategies for Building Mathematical Determination," James A. Middleton, Michael A. Tallman, Neil Hatfield, Owen Davis, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"Perseverance in mathematics is a multifaceted construct involving students' interests and proclivities, their will and skill. Often it is portrayed as a kind of trait that a student possesses--a kind of generalized intellectual toughness--rather than as a behavior that emerges from a variety of subjective appraisals that students make in particular contexts and situations. We propose a model of the development of perseverance in mathematics that redefines perseverance as not only overcoming obstacles en route to achieving a goal, but as a self-regulatory strategy that consciously redefines the obstacle in terms of both its conceptual and motivational characteristics. Mathematical perseverance, then, is seen less as a trait and more as an interplay between mathematical tasks, mathematics as an intellectual pursuit, and the goals, interests, and resources students bring to the learning environment. Following a section that presents our definition and model of perseverance, we discuss four central aspects of perseverance--interests and identity, setting goals, utilizing resources, and anticipating consequences. In each of these four sections, we offer suggestions for how teachers can use insights from the existing research to improve student perseverance in mathematics."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28128


C. "Learning Executive Function and Early Math," Douglas H. Clements, Julie Sarama, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"Perseverance in mathematics, especially for younger students, is influenced by two areas of competence: (a) self-regulation or executive function--the ability to control, supervise, and regulate one's own thinking and emotions, and (b) mathematics ideas and skills. We review the evidence regarding these two areas. First, we describe executive function and its components. Second, we address the question of whether executive function can be taught in schools. Third, we turn to the relationships between executive function and math achievement. How are they related? Does an increase in one lead to an increase in the other? Fourth, we briefly discuss the role of motivation and compensatory processes. We conclude that developing both executive function and mathematical competencies is essential for young children, especially for those most in need. We suggest that high-quality math education may have the dual benefit of teaching this important content area and developing executive function competencies."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28129


D. "Cultural Considerations in Support of Mathematical Perseverance: The Role of Context Activation," Edd. V. Taylor, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"This paper describes the ways in which consideration of students' out-of-school practices might be related to understanding and supporting students' mathematical perseverance. It discusses a study in which children were presented mathematics tasks related and unrelated to their everyday experiences. With the tasks related to their everyday lives, in addition to showing greater success, students also demonstrated greater levels of mathematical perseverance. This paper provides a theoretical framework that explains these findings by suggesting that children draw on previous experiences outside of school when solving these types of tasks, which appear to activate norms and orientations toward math that children use in out-of-school settings. Since problem solving in these settings often has "real life" consequences, children develop higher expectations that math can be meaningful, and these higher expectations for meaning appear to result in greater perseverance. The paper concludes with implications for teacher preparation and suggestions for future research."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28130


E. "Black Learners' Perseverance With Mathematics: A Qualitative Metasynthesis," Robert Q. Berry III, Kateri Thunder, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"Perseverance is often viewed as behavior exhibited in relation to a specific task, but perseverance can also be viewed more broadly as a behavior or set of behaviors spanning a longer period of time. This is the approach that Berry and Thunder (2014) take in their paper, which synthesizes qualitative research to explore how Black learners identity formation over time may influence their perseverance in mathematics throughout the course of their K-12 educations. The authors describe the ways in which Black learners racialized forms of experience contribute to identity formation and their sense of agency in relation to mathematics, highlighting first-hand accounts from high-achieving Black students that illustrate how their identities led to a high sense of agency that enabled them to persevere with and succeed in mathematics over time. Berry and Thunders study enriches our understanding of perseverance by relating the unique experiences of a particular subgroup of learners, as well as by demonstrating how perseverance can be seen not only as a task-specific concept, but also as a habit that persists over a longer period of time."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28131


F. "Beyond "You Can Do It!" - Developing Mathematical Perseverance in Elementary School," Hyman Bass, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Spencer Foundation, April 2015.

"'Perseverance,' an important psychological construct, matters for mathematics learning because solving challenging mathematics problems and reasoning about mathematical ideas often requires a kind of uncomfortable persistence. However, school experience often signals speed to be a marker of mathematical skill, and learners are rarely guided explicitly to see that perseverance is needed or how to stick productively with a tough problem. In this paper, we argue that perseverance is a domain-specific bundle of capacities and that it is not a trait, but can be deliberately taught and learned. We argue further that perseverance can be developed as a collective as well as an individual practice, and that collective work can help develop individual perseverance. We use a case of the teaching and learning of a challenging mathematics problem in an upper elementary mathematics class to illustrate and unpack these elements of the paper's argument. Our analysis focuses on three aspects of the instruction: the nature of the mathematical task on which the class was working, the sequencing of students' work on the problem, and how perseverancefor this problem and beyondwas supported. The paper concludes with several questions that our analysis suggests as important for next steps in trying to understand mathematical perseverance and what it takes to support and develop it."

MSPnet Location: LIBRARY>> Teaching and Learning
http://hub.mspnet.org/index.cfm/28132


2. MSPnet BLOG
A. New Blog Post: Success and Charters (2): Evidence on Charter Impact
In this recent blog post, Brian Drayton continues discussing the topic of charter schools.


3. ANNOUNCEMENT
A. TEAMS Webinar Recording Available: What are better quasi-experimental practices for evaluating STEM education programs?
Presenter: Kelly Hallberg, University of Chicago Crime Lab and Urban Education Lab

Description:
In education research, experimental designs that include treatment and control groups that are randomly assigned to different conditions of an intervention are considered the most rigorous choice for the evaluation of causal claims. However, a randomized controlled trial is frequently not feasible for developing evidence of the impact of many STEM practices, programs, and policies. In this session, researchers from Northwestern University will examine how quasi-experimental designs that include treatment and comparison groups and outcome measures but not random assignment to treatment and control conditions might produce findings of the same quality as experimental designs.