Spring School at the University of Wuerzburg (Bavaria, Germany)

Monday, 04 to Saturday, 09 April 2016

Perspectives on Research in Mathematics Education in the next Decade

Organized by Didactics of Mathematics

IMPORTANT: Due to the numerous demand for this Spring School 2016 we kindly ask all prospective participants to apply as soon as possible (and not waiting until the deadline!) Thank you for that. Hans-G. Weigand

Content and Aims

Didactics of Mathematics – or Mathematics Education – is a research area with many widespread fields of interest. Young researchers might get lost in the great variety of research areas. Beyond the concentration on their own scientific topic or special field of interest, they have to be able to evaluate their work in the whole field of mathematics education so that they recognize the meaning of their own work concerning the up-coming perspectives in the future.

This Spring School will bring young researchers together with experienced and acknowledged experts in various fields of mathematics education to get to know and to discuss perspectives on research areas in mathematics education in the next decade. The young researchers will most of all
  • get to know the research work of highly acknowledged experts in mathematics education and to get to know their view concerning the perspectives on their work in the next decade;
  • get to know on special examples different research methods in theoretical and empirical investigations in mathematics education; and
  • discuss their own research ideas with other young researchers and the invited experts.


The official Spring School poster can be found here

The Speakers and the Topics of the Lectures

For this school we have excellent speakers who will give lectures on a level which will allow the participants to start with their own research, to get new ideas concerning their on-going research, and to classify their own research in the frame of the present research landscape in mathematics education.
  • Mogens Niss [1] (University of Roskilde, Denmark)

    Mogens Niss is a world-wide highly acknowledged researcher in mathematics education. His research interests are focused on the justification problem in mathematics education, on applications and modelling in the teaching and learning of mathematics, on assessment, on the nature of mathematics education research as a scientific discipline, and on mathematical competencies in mathematics education. He has been a member of the Executive Committee of ICMI [2] for 12 years, and for the past eight years the Secretary of ICMI. He was the chair of the International Programme Committee of ICME-10 [3], Copenhagen 2004, and the Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of that Congress. He was a member of the International Programme Committee for ICME-11 (Monterrey, Mexico, 2008) and he is the Chair of ICMI Awards Committee responsible for the selection of awardees for the Felix Klein and Hans Freudenthal Awards. Moreover, he was a member of the ICMI-Denmark national subcommission, OECD PISA’s mathematics expert group.

    Title of his presentation: Priorities and challenges for mathematics education research

    Abstract: As I see it, one of our major priorities in mathematics education research is to bridge the gap between research (and researchers) and practice (and practitioners), both in terms of content and in terms of structural and organisational matters. One reason for this is an increasing pressure from practitioners and society (as represented by authorities, politicians, administrators, employers, and media) on mathematics education research to "deliver" relevant and specific outcomes of our research for the improvement of teaching and learning of mathematics. In my presentation I shall discuss this issue and present a special Danish further teacher education programme designed to bridge this gap. The programme addresses upper secondary school teachers and was established in 2012.

    It also seems to me that we have a challenge concerning the predominant research publication paradigm in our field. The bulk of research publications, especially in journals, present empirical results, oftentimes from small-scale qualitative studies, which are embedded in (or at least pay hommage to) some sort of theoretical framework. While such studies can indeed be most relevant and of a high quality they shouldn't stand alone. Our field is far from mature enough to be allowed to "canonise" a particular kind and form of research papers. In my presentation I shall elaborate on this challenge and discuss its relations to the above-mentioned priority.
  • Celia Hoyles has been President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications in the UK. She served as Government Chief Adviser for Mathematics from 2004 to 2007 and as Director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics from 2007 to 2013. In 2003, she was awarded the first Hans Freudenthal Medal by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction in recognition of 'the outstanding contribution that she has made to research in the domain of technology and mathematics education'. Her fields of interest are: policy, research, students' conceptions of proof, mathematical skills in modern workplaces, computational environments for learning and sharing mathematics and systemic change in teaching mathematics.

    Richard Noss is co-director of the London Knowledge Lab, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the Institute of Education and Birkbeck, two colleges of the University of London. He was co-founder and deputy scientific manager of Kaleidoscope, the European network of excellence for technology enhanced learning, and is currently the director of the UK's Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme funded jointly by the ESRC and EPSRC. His research areas are technology-based innovations in mathematics teachers' practices, design research concerning intelligent exploratory learning environments, indicating and validating student perception, and – in the last years – the project Cornerstone Mathematics: Designing Digital Technology for Teacher Adaptation and Scaling

    Title of their presentation: Researching the potential of digital technologies in mathematics learning: theory, design and the challenges of scaling innovation

    Abstract: In this session, we will present a range of research studies that demonstrate the potential of digital technologies in mathematics learning. We will discuss and critique the theoretical frameworks that underpin them and the methodologies adopted. We will focus some attention on the challenges of scaling innovation, again by presenting some examples for discussion. They offered to give two talks either concerning different topics (concerning the potential of digital technologies) or one main-topic from two different points of view.
  • Marta Menghini [6] (Dipartimento di Matematica, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy)

    She works in the area of mathematics, mathematics history, the curriculum reforms and especially the learning and teaching of geometry in mathematics classrooms. At the moment, she translates the 3rd volume of Felix Klein’s “Mathematik vom höheren Standpunkte aus” (1902) into English – the first two volumes of these very influential books are already available in English – and she is involved in the world-congress ICME in Hamburg in July 2016, in organizing the Thematic afternoon “The Legacy of Felix Klein”.

    Title of her presentation: "From practical geometry to the laboratory method: the search for an alternative to Euclid in the history of teaching geometry"

    Abstract: Practical geometry, created to give a concrete help to people involved in trade, in land-surveying or in astronomy, underwent a transformation that underlined its didactical value and turned it first into a way of teaching via problem solving, and then into an experimental-intuitive teaching that could be an alternative to the deductive-rational teaching of geometry. The historical evolution of this topic can introduce on the one hand the debate on the role of history of mathematics education as a field of research; on the other hand it can direct the discussion toward the methods of teaching geometry and their role in helping the passage from a level of geometric thought to a higher one.
  • Rita Borromeo Ferri [7] (University of Kassel, Germany)

    Rita Borromeo Ferri is a “rising star” in the area of mathematics education. Her research interests are mathematical modelling, mathematical competencies on crossing points in school development, mathematical thinking styles and university didactics. She is a member of the lnternational Community of Teachers of Mathematical Modelling and Applications (ICTMA [8]), was invited for a regular lecture at the ICME in Soul (2012), she gave the young researchers’ plenary talks at the Annual German Conference 2014, and she organized the YERME [9]-summer school of the European Society for Research in ME in 2014 in Kassel.

    Title of her presentation: Global Mathematical Modelling – a journey on theory, research and practice of an upcoming topic

    Abstract: Mathematical modelling became a key competence within school curricula and educational standards in many countries of the world. The presentation gives insights into the current situation concerning research, theory and practice and as well teachers’ motivations and needs of this upcoming topic.
  • Volker Ulm [10] (University of Bayreuth, Germany)

    His research interests are in developing competencies in ME, in the area of inquiry-based mathematics education, in fostering gifted children and in the use of digital technologies. He was and still is involved in the development of the Dynamic Geometry Software GEONeXT [11] in Bayreuth, he was involved in the German Project SINUS [12] and SINUS-Transfer. He was one of the leading persons of the European Project Fibonacci [13] and is the leader of the European project Project "KeyCoMath – Developing Key Competences by Mathematics Education" [14].

    Title of his presentation: Mathematical Giftedness: Conception, Diagnosis & Students‘ Support.

    Abstract: The contribution will focus on three key topics:
    • What is “mathematical giftedness”? How can “mathematical giftedness” be conceptualized? What are the relations to standards of mathematics education?
    • How can mathematically gifted students be identified in school? How can their special abilities be diagnosed?
    • How can mathematically gifted students be supported in school – especially in regular lessons (and not only by enrichment offers)?
    There has been some research on these topics in the last decades – but often with a focus on students in primary school. It is a challenge for research in mathematics education to develop answers to these questions with respect to secondary school students and to implement the results in the educational system. Supporting gifted students is one aspect of dealing with the natural diversity in school.
  • Lisa Hefendehl-Hebeker [15] (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

    Title of her presentation: Qualitative methods in mathematics education research

    Abstract: Qualitative research methods in mathematics education are interested in questions how meaning is created in interactions related to mathematical subjects and how such processes can be described by representative concepts in order to develop explanatory theories. The underlying theory of knowledge assumes that knowledge arises through acting and interacting of self-reflective beings within an existing cultural matrix.
    The presentation will demonstrate examples of a qualitative research designs and discuss some fundamental methodological and epistemological questions related to the approach.
  • Stefan Krauss [16] (University of Regensburg, Germany)

    Title of his presentation: Quantitative research methods in mathematics education

    Abstract: Research articles (or dissertations) using quantitative methods in the domain of teaching and learning mathematics share some specific commonalities with respect to planning an empirical study, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting on the respective results. In an introductory talk, important features of quantitative studies will be illustrated and the typical structure of a quantitative research report will be explained. In a subsequent workshop, participants will be able to practice some fundamental techniques, such as formulating research questions, operationalizing psychometric constructs, or applying basic statistical methods.

Structure of the Spring School

There are Plenary Lectures by experts about their field of interest, in (parallel) Working Groups participants will present their own research ideas, methodological approaches or problems, and preliminary research results, in order to get suggestions (from other participants and experts) about possible developments, different perspectives, etc., and there will be (parallel) Discussion Groups which give the participants the possibility to discuss topics of common interest.

Contribution, Talks and Poster Session

Each participants is kindly asked to submit a one page paper with title and abstract of his or her own work (this will mainly be a report about the present work in progress). Participants have the choice to present their work either in a 10-15-minutes-statement in one of the workshops or to take part in the poster session.

This way, we hope to stimulate discussions between the lecturers and the participants giving them the opportunity to present their own research on a large forum.


The spring school lectures will be held at the Department of Mathematics of Würzburg University. Würzburg is an old, typical German-style university town. It is located on the Main river and is surrounded by picturesque vineyards.

One of Würzburg's crown jewels is the ancient Marienberg Fortress that guards city and river. Würzburg can easily be reached by train from Frankfurt international airport (90 minutes).

Application and Financial Support

The registration fee is 135€ and the number of participants is limited. Financial support for travel expenses and accomodation is available for all participants. We will contact successful applicants by email immediately after the decision is made. See also: Expenses.

This spring school is funded by VW Foundation
Since there is only a limited number of participants, we expect the successfull applicant to attend the whole school.


Local organizing team

The local organizing committee consists of Prof. Hans-Georg Weigand (Chair for Mathematics Education), Prof. Dr. Martin Hennecke (Computer Science Education), Dr. Wolfgang Weigel, Dr. Jan Wörler, Johannes Beck, Ramona Behrens, Sebastian Mungenast, Anna-Katharina Roos, Dmitri Nedrenco (all Mathematics Education or Institute of Mathematics), Heike Kus (Secretary)