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Topic: JRME, A Case Study
Replies: 8   Last Post: Jun 29, 2001 4:19 AM

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Wayne Bishop

Posts: 5,465
Registered: 12/6/04
JRME, A Case Study
Posted: Jun 28, 2001 3:32 PM
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I just got my May, 2001, issue, Vol 32 No. 3, of the NCTM Journal for
Research in Mathematics Education. Still shrink wrapped, I said to a
colleague who knows quite a lot of statistics, "How many of the articles
contained herein are data-based; i.e., using objectively measured evidence
based on a sample size that you would consider meaningful, at least as
preliminary evidence that might warrant further study? Before he really
had a chance to answer, I said, "I take zero," meaning, of course, he wins
with one or more. "OK, what do you think should be a minimal sample size
to be meaningful; i.e., worthy of space in the most widely circulated
mathematics education journal in the world? Just students, not class
units, not schools, or the like." He now understands where I'm coming from
and conservatively says "50". I slit the plastic and open the journal:

P. 234 "In the Beginning(s), an editorial by Ed Silver
P. 236 "An Analysis of Development of Sociomathematical Norms in
One-First-Grade Classroom", Kay McClain and Paul Cobb
P. 267 "Building on Informal Knowledge Through Instruction in a Complex
Content Domain: Partitioning, Units, and Understanding Multiplication of
Fractions", Nancy Mack
P. 296 "From Preservice Mathematics Teacher Education to Beginning
Teaching: A Study in Recontextualizing, Paula Ensor
P. 321 Review: "Holistic Perspectives on Instructional Design - A Review
of 'Symbolizing and Communicating in Mathematics Classrooms: Perspectives
on Discourse, Tools, and Instructional Design'", Patrick W. Thompson
P. 331 Telegraphic Reviews
P. 331 Announcement

The first and last three, of course, are not supposed to have such
data-based evidence but what of the three main articles?

P. 236 One need not go past the title, obviously, but ... From P. 239 we
have "The Setting", "eleven girls and seven boys". From the section
entitled "Data and Methodology" we have "The data consist of videotape
recordings from two cameras of 103 mathematics lessons."

P. 267 From the first words of the abstract we have , "Six fifth-grade
students" and more detail from "Methodology", "The sample consisted of
three girls (identified in this article by the pseudonyms Abby, Lisa, and
Sara) and three boys (hereafter referred to as Adam, Lee, and Sam) who were
fifth-grade students in ..." From the section entitled "Data Analysis" we
have "all sessions were audiotaped and videotaped. Each day I wrote
detailed notes from ..."

P. 296 Again from the first words of the abstract, "This article describes
a two-year longitudinal study that tracked seven students through a
one-year, full-time, university-based secondary mathematics methods course
and into their first year of teaching ..."

I win. I'd have won if he'd have been satisfied with 20. And we also see
what "data" means these days, extensively taping an activity and analyzing
it to justify one's preconceptions. That doesn't make the preconceptions
wrong, of course. It's just that the activity and the publication thereof
are not meaningful research in mathematics education. That's what's wrong.


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