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UMass Dartmouth establishes James J. Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education

Center named for late professor and pioneer in improving math education through innovative research and software development

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth today announced the creation of the James J. Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education, named for the late UMass Dartmouth professor whose innovative thinking and leadership inspired many around the world in the field of mathematics education.

The goal of the Center is to democratize access to core ideas in mathematics through new theories of teaching and learning and innovative technology, thus enabling children from all backgrounds to learn mathematics in deep and sustaining ways, and positioning them to enjoy lifelong success. The central strategy is to engage students as early as kindergarten in the mathematical concepts that are the foundations of advanced mathematics such as algebra and calculus.

"Improving the teaching and learning of mathematics is a major national security issue for this country and the Kaput Center is dedicated to this task," said Dr. Stephen Hegedus, director of the center. "Unless we change the way children learn math in the early grades and create new technology to advance learning, our high schools and colleges will be turning out a generation of graduates who are ill-equipped to compete in the global economy."

"The research and development that has occurred because of Jim Kaput's visionary work on technology in mathematics education continues to be an inspiration and driving force for many developers and educators around the world," said Melendy Lovett, president, Educational Technology, Texas Instruments. "TI recognizes the critical role research has in the development and improvement of educational technology and we've made it a staple of our product development process.  We're proud to be associated with the newly established Kaput Center and its focus on improving mathematics education for all."
The purpose of the Kaput Center, which will be located in Fairhaven at the former AT&T facility, is to provide a focus and support for sustained investigation of foundational issues in mathematics education. The Kaput Center is a place where fundamental problems in mathematics education will be studied, discussed and analyzed through conferences, colloquium series, basic research and development, commissioned reports, and think-tank meetings.

Dr. Hegedus and his colleagues at the Center - Drs. Maria Blanton and Luis Moreno Armella - have been working with teachers and students in Fall River, Wareham, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, New Bedford and many other Massachusetts communities in developing new methods to engage younger students in the concepts of advanced mathematical thinking. Key to the strategy is to encourage students and teachers to engage in a two-way dialogue--even debate--about the concepts rather than simply have the teacher lecture about the content.

The Center also has begun international collaborative projects with Mexico, Colombia, England, Greece, and Singapore.

The Center currently has several NSF-funded projects that look at a diversity of foundational issues in K-16 mathematics education.  A major research project is underway in Texas to test the strategies developed by the Kaput Center team.

The Kaput Center team, along with three area math teachers and graduates of the UMass Dartmouth mathematics program, recently attended National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Atlanta to present their work to math educators from around the country.

The Kaput Center, in conjunction with the Mathematics Department, is also developing a new doctorate program that will strengthen UMass Dartmouth's contribution to the national effort to improve math education.

Author:  "John Hoey"
Date:  09-May-2007
Department:   News & Public Information

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