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Eric.ed.gov – A Rural Community’s Perceptions of the Importance of Math and Math Education in Appalachia. Summary Report. The Padua Project

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In an effort to discern the perceptions of the importance or value of mathematics education held by ordinary people in Appalachia, a qualitative research study was performed in accordance with an agreement with the ACCLAIM Research Initiative. The study engaged the qualitative research method known as “folknography” and targeted the community of Padua (a pseudonym), in a state in the Appalachian south. The study was conducted in late March, 2004, by undergraduate students previously enrolled in a related course taught by the principal investigator. This report was developed from data analyzed after the completion of the field work. The student researchers collected nearly 650 surveys and conducted nearly 250 interviews with informants in three age groups (youth, adults, seniors). Overall, Padua residents were quick to respond and eager to discuss mathematics and mathematics education. Informants were found to value mathematics principally for its utility, to esteem good mathematics teaching and good mathematics teachers, and few blamed any failure to understand mathematics on teachers. Many, however, appeared to believe that some mathematics teachers could be more sympathetic in their instructional role. Across age groups, informants easily related mathematics to other life experiences. Possibly because of the prevailing utilitarian outlook, many informants saw little use in the community or region for higher forms of math should the current economic decline persist in the region. Without improvement, youth were predicted to leave in search of more acceptable employment choices. Appendices include: (1) Padua Project Undergraduate Student Folknographers; (2) Perceptions of Math in Appalachia Interview Questions; and (3) Shadows of the River. A bibliography is included. (Contains 10 figures.) [This paper was presented by David M. Lucas.]

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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