Mathematical Modeling (MM) now has increased visibility in the education system and in the public domain. It appears as a content standard for high school mathematics and a mathematical practice standard across the K-12 curriculum (Common Core Standards; and other states’ standards in mathematics education). Job opportunities are increasing in business, industry and government for those trained in the mathematical sciences. Quantitative reasoning is foundational for civic engagement and decision-making for addressing complex social, economic, and technological issues. Therefore, we must take action to support and sustain a significant increase in the teaching and learning of mathematical modeling from Kindergarten through Graduate School.
Mathematical modeling is an iterative process by which mathematical concepts and structures are used to analyze or gain qualitative and quantitative understanding of real world situations. Through modeling students can make genuine mathematical choices and decisions that take into consideration relevant contexts and experiences.
Mathematical modeling can be a vehicle to accomplish multiple pedagogical and mathematical goals. Modeling can be used to introduce new material, solidify student understanding of previously learned concepts, connect the world to the classroom, make concrete the usefulness (maybe even the advantages) of being mathematically proficient, and provide a rich context to promote awareness of issues of equity, socio-political injustices, and cultural relevance in mathematics.
A critical issue in math education is that although mathematical modeling is part of the K-12 curriculum, the great majority of teachers have little experience with mathematical modeling as learners of mathematics or in their teacher preparation. In some cases, mathematics teacher educators have limited experience with mathematical modeling while being largely responsible for preparing future teachers.
Currently, the knowledge in teaching and learning MM is underdeveloped and underexplored. Very few MM resources seem to reach the K-16 classrooms. Collective efforts to build a cohesive curriculum in MM and exploration of effective teaching practices based on research are necessary to make mathematical modeling accessible to teacher educators, teachers and students.
At the undergraduate level, mathematical modeling has traditionally been reserved for university courses for students in STEM majors beyond their sophomore year. Many of these courses introduce models but limit the students’ experience to using models that were developed by others rather than giving students the opportunity to generate their own models as is common in everyday life, in modeling competitions and in industry.
The CIME workshop on MM will bring together mathematicians, teacher educators, K-12 teachers, faculty and people in STEM disciplines. As partners we can address ways to realize mathematical modeling in the K-12 classrooms, teacher preparation, and lower and upper division coursework at universities. The content and pedagogy associated with teaching mathematical modeling needs special attention due to the nature of modeling as a process and as a body of content knowledge.Updated on Jul 19, 2018 09:48 AM PDT
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