Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dr. Candace Walkington Receives National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

Dr. Candace Walkington
A former graduate of mine and our Doctoral Program at The University of Texas at Austin, Candace Walkington, recently received word that she is a recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. For those of you not familiar, The National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports early career scholars working in critical areas of education research. This nonresidential postdoctoral fellowship funds proposals that make significant scholarly contributions to the field of education. The program also develops the careers of its recipients through professional development activities involving National Academy of Education members. You can find more information about the program at:http://www.naeducation.org/NAED_080201.htm

Title: A New Approach to Personalized Learning: Students as Authors of Their Own Algebra Stories  

Abstract: Algebra acts as a gatekeeper to many careers and to higher-level mathematics, and students often struggle to understand the abstract representations introduced in this course. In the proposed study, I will implement an intervention where students generate personalized connections between concepts they are learning in algebra and their out-of-school interests in topics like sports, video games, and shopping. Students will author their own "algebra stories" where they describe how linear relationships can approximate things they encounter in their everyday lives. I hypothesize that authoring these stories will elicit students' interest in the content to be learned, and meaningfully draw upon their funds of knowledge from their home and community lives; my work is unique in that it combines these cognitive and motivational theories. Using qualitative and quantitative methods that compare an experimental group to a control group, I will examine how the intervention elicits students' interest in learning algebra, and promotes a positive outlook towards mathematics. I will look at the impact of the intervention on students' classroom discussions and on learning of algebra concepts.  This research will reveal ways in which abstract mathematical content can be made more accessible and enhance motivation, especially for students who struggle with mathematics.

Bio: Candace Walkington is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. She received her doctorate in Mathematics Education from University of Texas and completed an IES Postdoctoral Fellowship in Mathematical Thinking, Learning, and Instruction at University of Wisconsin. Her research focuses on how abstract mathematical concepts can become grounded in students' interests, experiences, and everyday reasoning practices. She is a long-time collaborator with Carnegie Learning and the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, both of whom have supported much of her research. At SMU, she teaches courses for pre-service and in-service teachers related to methods for STEM teaching, and acts as Chair of the math, science, and technology programs.