Mathematics and Culture in Micronesia: Integrating Societal Experiences (Macimise)

Founded on ethnomathematics research findings, this project aims to increase the mathematics learning of first-, fourth-, and seventh-grade elementary school Micronesian students. Plans are to develop and field-test culturally and linguistically sensitive grade-level curriculum units in specific mathematics topics, such as number and counting, division of whole numbers and fractions, and elements of geometry, focused on the indigenous mathematics learning experiences of eight distinct islands in the Pacific region.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
0918309
Funding Period: 
Tuesday, September 1, 2009 to Sunday, August 31, 2014
Project Evaluator: 
Joan LaFrance
Full Description: 

Founded on ethnomathematics research findings, this project--a collaborative research and development effort between Pacific Resources for Education and Learning and the University of Hawaii-Manoa--aims to increase the mathematics learning of first-, fourth-, and seventh-grade elementary school Micronesian students. Plans are to develop and field-test culturally and linguistically sensitive grade-level curriculum units in specific mathematics topics, such as number and counting, division of whole numbers and fractions, and elements of geometry, focused on the indigenous mathematics learning experiences of eight distinct islands in the Pacific region. A team of mathematicians, mathematics educators, mathematics teachers, graduate students, curriculum and assessment experts, and quantitative and qualitative methodologists will develop and implement approximately 24 curriculum units (8 for each grade level).

The hypothesis that inclusion of indigenous ways of knowing into the mathematics curriculum may enhance students' NCTM standards-based mathematics learning and meaning making drives the proposed scope of work. Thus, the main research question is: Does knowledge of recovered culturally based mathematics significantly improve indigenous student scores on standardized mathematics tests at grades 1, 4, and 7? The specific setting of the study comprises eight islands included in the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and American Samoa. Participants include 2,304 first- , fourth- , and seventh-grade students: 24 experimental and 24 control groups, two of each grade level on each of the eight U.S.-affiliated islands of the Pacific region.

Qualitative data gathering strategies, such as interviews with local informants, teachers, and students; and classroom observations are used to document indigenous ways of knowing, mathematical content, assessment practices, and cultural practices. Quantitative data gathering and interpretation strategies using pre-and post-test scores, as well as scores from standardized assessments, will include statistical analyses to determine the effect of the curricular units on participating students' grade-level mathematics achievement.

The evaluation plan comprises both formative and summative components, including implementation evaluation and progress evaluation. Grade-level curriculum units, three publications on findings, a professional development model for teachers through graduate courses, and a cadre of masters' and doctoral degrees in mathematics education are among the main products of this effort.

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