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More Lessons Learned from Research, Volume 1

Edward A. Silver and Patricia Ann Kenney, editors
Publisher: 
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Publication Date: 
2015
Number of Pages: 
310
Format: 
Paperback
Price: 
42.95
ISBN: 
9780873536875
Category: 
Anthology
[Reviewed by
Woong Lim
, on
09/23/2016
]

The phrase “research-based” may easily be the cliché of the year in education. The paradigm of the public perception of teaching is shifting towards a profession of evidence- and research-informed pedagogy. More Lessons Learned from Research: Useful and Usable Research related to Core Mathematical Practices, Volume 1, represents an ambitious vision to integrate research and practice in the field of mathematics education. Such a vision is not necessarily new. After all, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics published a book Lessons Learned from Research back in 2002. Both books are basically the same: a collection of research articles published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, a premier journal in the field of mathematics education. For this book, the complex academic writing in the research articles had to be edited extensively in order to reach a wide teacher audience beyond the Ivory Tower. One difference between the two books is that More Lessons Learned from Research features research studies that reflect the process and practice of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice.

There are eight of these standards for practice, and more descriptions are accessible through http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice/. Key words from these standards include sense making, reasoning, constructing and critiquing arguments, modeling, using tools, precision, and mathematical structure. Not surprisingly, the book is organized in three sections with a total of 28 articles reflecting these key words: Section 1. Research related to Reasoning and Proving; Section 2. Research related to Communicating, Sense Making, and Using Tools Strategically; and Section 3. Research related to Modeling and Solving. In this regard, this book can serve those who wish to investigate how research and mathematics teaching practice combine to support the standards for mathematical practice in the Common Core.

As a former high school mathematics teacher, I thought about why reading research articles was not a regular part of my teaching practice. My excuses range from “Nobody made me” to “I didn’t have time to read”. My colleagues may have better reasons that are not as straightforward, but mine clearly underscore a persistent disconnect between research and teaching practices. Teachers are too overworked to find time to read research and get little support and professional autonomy to integrate research into practice. In this regard, the efforts of leaders in the field of mathematics education to enable practitioners to have access to high quality peer-reviewed research articles, as demonstrated with the publication of this book, is commendable. The editors took pains to ensure that each section of the book begins with an introduction in which the chapter (or article) is abstracted in crisp language with the special subheading, “Lessons learned.”

Out of curiosity, I did some digging to figure out how actual research articles are modified to serve as chapters in this book. I found that the literature review portions of the chapters are drastically cut down; each abstract is expanded to provide a more detailed overview of the content; the method and findings sections are trimmed to provide only key information; and rich examples or more contexts are added to the original text to help teachers get concrete ideas for implementing recommendations. The book has minor drawbacks too. The print may be too small for some audiences to read, and the layout design may be too conservative to compete with articles in practitioner magazines. This book overcomes its relatively minor drawbacks, however, to present a thoughtful collection of excellent research studies. No doubt, this book will be great for classroom teachers and prospective teachers — as well as anyone interested in integrating highly regarded research into practice – regardless of whether or not they support Common Core Standards.


Woong Lim (woonglim@unm.edu) is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at University of New Mexico. His research interests include interrelations between language and mathematics, teacher preparation, and equity issues in mathematics education. 

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