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Photo of a Stanford GSE event near Cubberley Building

JOB TALK: Elementary Mathematics Education

Monday, January 6, 2014
CERAS Learning Hall

Prof. Laura Bofferding, Assistant Professor, Mathematics Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Purdue University

Prof. Laura Bofferding
Prof. Laura Bofferding

“Characterizing first graders’ mental models of negative numbers and implications for instruction”

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics delay the introduction of negative numbers until 6th grade.  However, this late introduction poses problems for teachers as younger students clamor for answers to questions such as, “What’s 3-7?”, problems which many teachers tell them are not possible.   I will first discuss a study in which I investigated how first graders interpret negative numbers through a pre-interview, intervention, post-interview design.  The intervention consisted of instruction that built on their understanding of whole numbers, addition, and subtraction.  The students demonstrated gains from two-weeks of formal instruction.  I’ll also share preliminary data from an ongoing study probing first graders’ learning from informal integer experiences.  Finally, I’ll discuss how teachers could leverage the findings to improve their instruction of integer quantities, operations, and number line representations.

Laura Bofferding (MA, 07, PhD, 11) is an assistant professor at Purdue University in the department of curriculum and instruction and specializes in elementary mathematics education. Her current research, funded by a NAEd/Spencer Foundation post-doctoral fellowship, focuses on learning opportunities that support children’s understanding of numbers.  Using a pretest, intervention, posttest design, she explores how elementary-school students learn about integers in an effort to clarify the prerequisite number knowledge necessary to understand integers. Before her doctoral studies, she taught first grade at a Title I school in inner-city Las Vegas and was a mathematics and science content designer at an educational software company.