Book of Math Terms Provides Help for Students, Professionals

Book of Math Terms Provides Help for Students, Professionals

By Kirsten Baird
The Razorback Reporter

An interdisciplinary team of four UA professors have published a book that features a list of mathematical terms that will guide beginners and experts through their academic studies, a professor in Curriculum and Instruction said.

The Language of Mathematics: An Expanded Glossary of Key Terms and Concepts in Mathematics Teaching and Learning offers resources for students and educators who wish to deepen their understanding of math terms, the authors said.

“This book around the country will be useful for people pursuing a doctorate in mathematics education, because it is a very technical document in the sense that it explains and provides the background of the people who came up with these terms,” said Laura Kent, a UA mathematics education professor and co-author of the book.

Each term in the book is unique to mathematics teaching and learning and has a definition, description, and a list of references, Kent said.

As one who has enjoyed Googling the meaning of words, Kim McComas, one of the co-authors, said this book would be a place for her to be able to not only find what a term means, but also look at the background and find other references.

Through a rigorous process of synthesizing definitions, researching terms, and summarizing three to six articles of mathematical literature, each of the authors worked to chisel each term into a one-page overview, McComas said.

The hope for this book is that it provides resources for both new and experienced mathematicians, said Shannon Dingman, mathematics professor and co-author.

“I think anyone in any field has been new to that field at some point,” Dingman said. “And I think that when you’re new to a field, oftentimes, there is so much that you’re trying to absorb at one particular moment that a lot of times the easiest place to start is ‘what are we talking about?’”

The intent of the book is to enable students and math educators to fully understand the key terms used within mathematics to ensure that they can then help educate others fully, Kent said.

“My emphasis and my passion now, is to develop others to become math teachers. I love that part of it,” said Kent. “I teach the methods, go out and observe them learning how to teach in the schools. So, this book is really targeting more of that audience, more on the education side.”

Because this was an interdisciplinary project between the College of Education and Fulbright College, it provided a well-rounded perspective to reach both students and educators.

“I think that there are terms that we slightly use differently in the two different realms. So, it’s nice to come to an agreement, or at least some discussion about how a specific term might be used differently depending upon the context in which you work,” Dingman said.

“This is the second book in what we hope is a series of books,” Dingman said. “We want to provide these types of resources to whatever beginning grad student, whatever field that they’re looking at; English education, social studies education, music education.”

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Kirsten Baird was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She moved to Fayetteville, AR three years ago to begin her studies at the University of Arkansas. This semester, she is involved in the Digital Media Lab. She will be covering stories and events related to the College of Education and Health Professions for the Razorback Reporter.

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