Math for Teaching: Developing Research Questions

The goal for a Math for Thesis project is to make an original contribution to the subject of teaching mathematics by bringing new insight and a fresh perspective to your topic. Identifying a good research topic for your thesis requires an active, thoughtful mindset - and above all - curiosity.  

A helpful place to start is to think about what concerns you as a current or pre-service teacher – are there aspects of the math curriculum, issues of education policy, issues of testing, problems working with administrators, parents, challenges in the classroom, etc. that you would like to see changed?

Many Math for Teaching theses are project-based - instead of identifying a list of research questions, you might be finding areas in which you can create something to address a particular math education problem. Consider the following to give you some initial ideas as to the breadth of possibilities for your project:

  • Design materials for lessons involving a mathematics topic of interest - observe/assess them being used in a classroom setting
  • Create websites to support math courses, math teachers, students, and/or parents - track their use and effectiveness
  • Design/teach a course involving inquiry based methods, or another non-traditional approach - interview students about their experiences
  • Create assessment tools for pre- and post-testing new teaching techniques - use the tools to study the effect of various teaching methods
  • Research a math education topic, such as the history of manipulatives - investigate its impact in the classroom
  • Develop a teacher training system - e.g., videotape consulting to help colleagues study/improve their teaching