PhD candidate Priyanka Agarwal will be presenting to the Teacher Learning Group meeting on Thursday, November 29, 12:00-1:00 pm, Education Building Room 2005. The title of her presentation is "Understanding Student Mathematical Doubts as Generative for Problem Posing and for Serving Epistemic Needs of Under-Served Youth."
Priyanka's research interests include student engagement in mathematics, student dispositions toward mathematics, equity in mathematics education, schools as organizations, and mixed-methods research. She is specializing in Teaching, Learning, and Educational Improvement (TLEI) and is advised by Associate Professor Rossella Santagata.
Researchers have recognized the importance of engaging school children in mathematical practices that mathematicians use in their work. As a first step towards their inquiry, mathematicians find and ask rich problems for solving. The practice of mathematical problem posing has thus been theorized in education research as a necessary precondition of learning for youth in schools. Despite the push for integrating problem posing in school mathematics, we don’t fully understand what epistemic needs propel school-going learners towards creating their own math problems and if those needs are same as those of mathematicians. Current research has also not explored problem-posing for the learning of non-dominant students, in spite of its potential to cultivate student agency and to develop a sense of how knowledge gets generated. In this talk, I will present my recent work that investigates the nature of mathematical problem-posing in classrooms serving students who have historically been marginalized and labeled as low-performing in math. I conceptualize student problem posing as a knowledge-seeking process whereby students ask questions and form conjectures in the face of mathematical doubts. I will describe a typology of students’ mathematical doubts that emerged when I analyzed student thinking and their perplexities and musings about an abstract math pattern. I will also construe trajectories of productive problem posing, i.e., ways in which students tinker with their own and peers’ ideas, conjecture and refute, and collectively attend to the changing forms of their initial nascent doubts to mathematize them for solving. The findings suggest an ecological process of knowing undergirding under-served youths’ ways of sensemaking. The findings reach beyond the past focus on the cognitive strategies of problem-posing and its linkages with individual creativity and ability. Instead, they offer an understanding of the sociocultural processes of problem-posing in complex classroom ecologies. I will conclude with a discussion of implications for design and pedagogy to cultivate non-dominant students’ innate sense of knowing and creating things.