University of Oregon

Intriguing Research Questions

The Mathematic eText Research Center is actively engaged in collecting, reviewing, sharing, and discussing the existing research corpus on supported mathematical text and on related questions and issues. Our goal is to provide the general research community with a robust set of materials that are useful for understanding reading in mathematics, designing and conducting research on mathematical eText, interpreting and correlating research results, and for setting future research agendas.

We have developed a five phase process for collecting and evaluating this literature. The results of this process are reported in this Intriguing Questions section of the MeTRC website. This section holds a set of overviews that summarizes the resources we have collected pertaining to specific questions or topics judged to be of interest to the MeTRC community. The overviews themselves, and the collections on which they are based, evolve over time as the collections expand and are discussed.

The five phase process:

Phase 1 - Initial Literature Search: Identify a question or topic, conduct a basic literature search, store the collection in a bibliographic database, format citations acording the APA 6 guidelines, and assign basic tags.

Phase 2 - Topic Introduction: Identify recurring themes and issues within the literature, write an initial Introduction to the topic, and install the Introduction and the reference list in Related Questions.

Phase 3 - Topic Overview: Review the collection, identify key papers and themes, write an Overview of the topic, organize the collection reference list by themes, post these in Related Questions in place of the Introduction, and install the citations in the eText Research Database.

Phase 4 - Community Discussion: Conduct an ongoing discussion on the question involving MeTRC community members, authors of major papers cited, and other relevant individuals. As part of this process, the overview and reference list are revised and extended, to become an annotated bibliography of the most important references related to the targeted topic, and a description of the outstanding issues that could be addressed in future research.

Phase 5 - Formal Dissemination: The final phase of the review and discussion process is writing a formal review of the literature related to the given topic, and submits this for publication.

At the moment, there are two topics in Phase 4 discussions, three topics that have completed Phase 2 and ten that have completed Phase 1. These can be accessed through the links at the left and via the descriptions below. 

We welcome your comments and suggestions.

Text-to-Speech in Mathematics

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Text-to-Speech is an important advance in making texts accessible to all students; however, due to the unique language and structure of mathematics, creating a Text-to-Speech program specifically for math presents considerable difficulty. Charts and graphs, in particular, are challenging to describe and read out loud without confusion. Various approaches to communicating mathematics unambiguously have been developed, which is a key step in developing a math TTS program. TTS in math can benefit students with learning difficulties as well as those with visual impairments.

Read more: Text-to-Speech in Mathematics

 

What are the issues surrounding the use of word problems in the math curriculum?

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Word problems are consistently used as practice exercises and illustrations throughout math curriculum.  Despite this prevalence, many students have difficulty solving word problems, based on the complex and varied nature of these exercises. 

Read more: What are the issues surrounding the use of word problems in the math curriculum?

   

Writing and discourse in mathematics

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Research suggests that writing as a learning tool in math instruction has great potential in rectifying major issues in math education, such as the emphasis on achievement, passive/disengaged learning, anxiety, and low student self-efficacy. Writing is unique in that student-writers must simultaneously create, structure, and interpret meaning, while also engaging in self-reflection as they re-read their work.

Read more: Writing and discourse in mathematics

   

How do mobile environments affect the learning and instruction of mathematics?

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Mathematics remains a difficult and intimidating subject for many students - a trend that is consistent across age, grade level, nationality, and culture.  Mobile technology is emerging as a promising way to re-engage students with math curriculum.

Read more: How do mobile environments affect the learning and instruction of mathematics?

   

How can image descriptions be used to support students with visual impairments?

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Research has shown that while providing accessible image descriptions to students with VI greatly improves their success in engaging with graphical data, it will be important to develop and adhere to uniform standards for producing these descriptions.

Read more: How can image descriptions be used to support students with visual impairments?

   

How can mathematical text be made accessible to students with print disabilities?

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Instructors and curriculum developers face a set of unique problems when it comes to teaching math to students with varying print disabilities (e.g. blind, vision impairments, dyslexia, etc.). 

Read more: How can mathematical text be made accessible to students with print disabilities?

   

How can the readability of a mathematical text be measured?

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This article identifies some of the key ideas around the concept of mathematical readability and suggests books, articles, and websites useful in studying these ideas.

Read more: How can the readability of a mathematical text be measured?

   

What role does vocabulary play in learning mathematics?

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How can mathematics vocabulary be taught by teachers, and what strategies can students use for learning math vocabulary? Many of the studies we have discovered so far have focused on specific literacy methods teachers can use when teaching math vocabulary, and reinforce the belief that literacy is important when students learn math vocabulary.

Read more: What role does vocabulary play in learning mathematics?

   

How are textbooks used in teaching and learning mathematics?

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How are textbooks used in the teaching and learning mathematics? Our search for resources on this question is in its beginning stages, but thus far we have found articles examining how textbooks are used as teaching or learning resources in the classroom, on whether textbooks can be a effective tool for learning mathematics, and on how textbooks might be misused.

Read more: How are textbooks used in teaching and learning mathematics?

   

How does text complexity influence math comprehension and learning outcomes?

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 In recent years the concept of "readability" as been expanded into the more general notion of "Text Complexity."

Read more: How does text complexity influence math comprehension and learning outcomes?

   

How can digital learning environments be used to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics?

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As computers and digital technology become increasingly prevalent in education settings, it is important to look at the ways this technology can best be used in mathematics teaching and learning environments.

Read more: How can digital learning environments be used to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics?

   

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