Undergraduate Research in Mathematics Education: Using Qualitative Data About Children’s Learning to Make Decisions About Teaching
Undergraduate research is increasingly prevalent in many fields of study, but it is not yet widespread in mathematics education. We argue that expanding undergraduate research opportunities in mathematics education would be beneficial to the field. Such opportunities can be impactful as either extracurricular or course-embedded experiences. To help readers envision directions for undergraduate research experiences in mathematics education with prospective teachers, we describe a model built on a design-based research paradigm. The model engages pairs of prospective teachers in working with faculty mentors to design instructional sequences and test the extent to which they support children’s learning. Undergraduates learn about the nature of systematic mathematics education research and how careful analyses of classroom data can guide practice. Mentors gain opportunities to pursue their personal research interests while guiding undergraduate pairs. We explain how implementing the core cycle of the model, whether on a small or large scale, can help teachers make instructional decisions that are based on rich, qualitative classroom data.