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Asian Research in Mathematics Education

Bill Atweh, Lianghuo Fan, Catherine P. Vistro-Yu (eds.)
Publication Date: 
[Reviewed by
Russel Jay Hendel
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This book surveys mathematics-education research in China, Singapore, the Phillipines, Korea, Turkey, Macao (China), and Indonesia. In a short book of under 200 pages, the book covers a wealth of information.
Among the countries surveyed we particularly emphasize, as being of possible interest to researchers, Korea, which over the past 20 years has demonstrated outstanding performance in a series of international mathematics assessments such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Korean students’  accomplishments have attracted considerable attention from international educators, researchers, and policy makers. Researchers have investigated several aspects of Korean mathematics education such as curriculum, textbook developments, teacher preparation, and effective mathematics instruction. The chapter on Korea attempts to give an even broader picture.
Another noteworthy jurisdiction to highlight is Macao, a special administrative region of China, which integrates eastern and western educational traditions.
For each Asian country, the source of material for the book includes a classification of recent doctoral and master dissertations as well as a review and classification of topics in the mathematics-education journals of that country. The analysis of journals could also include conference papers, scholarly book chapters, invited presentations, keynote addresses, and research reports. There is also a chapter (on the Phililpinesaddressing building a research culture in graduate education.
To give the flavor of the book we present an overview of several classification schemes presented throughout the book with each chapter adopting these classification schemes of articles and dissertations uniquely to their country. The topics in these classification schemes include mathematics curriculum, teacher instruction, student learning, problem solving, professional development, and use of ICT in mathematics education.  The types of research vary including research and development of educational products, surveys, experiments, literature reviews, and case studies. The topics of research include ICT, learning media, learning models, instructional strategies and ethno-mathematics. Content areas span numbers, algebra, geometry,  measurement, data analysis, and the simultaneous use of algebra and geometry.
Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. Data collection tools include surveys, interviews, observations, and a wide variety of documents such as textbooks, texts, and supportive materials. The participants of surveys and the objects of research also shows a wide variety, including pre-service teachers, teachers, and parents.
Besides the traditional research areas of teacher preparation, and student learning, research and articles might cover goals, policy, curriculum, education and assessment, cultural, social, and gender issues (inclusivity), history, philosophy, epistemology, textbooks, technology, teacher preparation and professional development programs, and informal learning (e.g. use of museum trips to enhance learning).
A wide breadth of educational theories are touched upon including the socio-cultural based theories and the psycho-mathematical based theories. The major theories are all included including those of van-HieleGardner, Vygotsky, constructivism, problem-solving, self-efficacy etc.  Besides the classification schemes unique to each country, frequently, the book lightly describes the history of mathematics education in that country.
Russell Jay Hendel, holds a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics and an Associateship from the Society of Actuaries. He teaches at Towson University. His interests include discrete number
theory, graph theory, applications of technology to education, problem writing, theory of pedagogy, actuarial science, and the interaction between mathematics, art, and poetry, and biblical literary exegesis.