Plenary Speaker Profile (2008)
Sharon Senk
Professor, Division of Science and Mathematics Education and Department of Mathematics
Michigan State University
Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Algebra: Current Research, Recommendations, and Programs

Algebra is the foundation for much of the secondary school mathematics and science curriculum. Unfortunately, lack of understanding of algebra prevents many students from pursuing careers that use mathematics and science. Thus, it is important to examine what kinds of knowledge might enable more effective teaching of algebra. This session will present recent recommendations and research about mathematical knowledge for teaching algebra, and describe programs and materials that are addressing development of knowledge for teaching algebra.

Sharon Senk holds a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan, an M.A.T. in Mathematics from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago, where she studied with Zalman Usiskin. She currently is Professor at Michigan State University (MSU) where she has appointments in the Division of Science and Mathematics Education and the Department of Mathematics. Previously she taught mathematics in secondary schools in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan, and at Syracuse University. For almost 20 years she was Co-Director of the Secondary Component of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) during which she co-authored textbooks on Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Functions, Statistics and Trigonometry.

Dr. Senk's major research interests are the learning and teaching of secondary school mathematics, the analysis of school mathematics curricula, and the mathematical preparation of primary and secondary school teachers. She has published in many journals including the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education and the Mathematics Teacher. Her most recent book is Standards-Based School Mathematics Curricula: What are they? What do students learn? which she developed with Denisse Thompson. At present she is Principal Investigator of the Noyce Scholars Program at MSU, and Co-PI of three other grants funded by the National Science Foundation: Knowing Mathematics for Teaching Algebra (KAT), Mathematicians and Mathematics Educators Collaborating on Capstone Courses for Secondary Mathematics Teachers, and the Teacher Education Development Study in Mathematics (IEA TEDS-M 2008). She also serves as Co-Chair of the Mathematics Committee of the Teachers for a New Era Project at MSU, and as a consultant on Evaluation for UCSMP.