Rural Mathematics Education and ACCLAIM

Rural math education is, in a sense, the invention of ACCLAIM, the Appalachian Collaborative Center (2001-2011).  Until recently the Center sponsored a multi-university (OU, UofL, UTK, UK, and WVU) doctoral program in mathematics education (with a strong rural focus) and a research initiative (entirely rural mission); the program has not, however, accepted new students since 2006: coursework for the final cohort ended in spring 2010.  The research effort concluded its final no-cost extension in 2011 and has produced about 150 publications, including 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. Additionally 2 award-winning dissertations were conducted with ACCLAIM's support. This site is maintained by Craig Howley (WordFarmers Associates, formerly of Ohio University). The final publication (Going Further; see below) is Working Paper No. 42, which summarizes the Center's research.

The Center recruited three cohorts of about 18 students each.  Twenty students have successfully defended dissertations. The dissertation collection at this site (see sidebar) currently lists most of these studies. Nearly all are available in PDF or Word files on the dissertations page (see sidebar).

Why Do We Care?
  • We like rural places and people.
  • We like rural ways of life.
  • 60% of US school districts are located in rural places (open country and small towns).
  • 40% of US schools are located in rural places.
  • 30% of US students attend schools located in rural places.
  • Mathematics is useful and beautiful.
  • Rural people need mathematics.
  • Rural places need their people to do math well.

Key Publications

Eight key publications are accessible below: (1) the Center's theoretical framework, (2) an assessment of the research output of the center, (3) a monograph and (4-6) three peer-reviewed articles that proceeded from the Center's largest study (of rural mathematics with connections to local communities), and (7) Mike Corbett's excellent movie and (8) related Working Paper.

  • Theoretical Framework

Early in its life, ACCLAIM developed a short framework for inviting the participation of researchers and for making its commitments explicit.  Here's the precis:

ACCLAIM’s mission is the cultivation of indigenous leadership capacity for the improvement of school mathematics in rural places. The Center addresses the mission through efforts to (1) understand the rural context as it pertains to learning and teaching mathematics; (2) articulate in scholarly works, including empirical research, the meaning and utility of that learning and teaching among, for, and by rural people; and (3) improve the professional development of mathematics teachers and leaders in and for rural communities.

The full document (5 pages) is also available.

  • Going Further: A Roadmap to the Works of the ACCLAIM Research Initiative (working paper no. 42, February 2012)

Going Further is a comprehensive guide to the substantive works of the ACCLAIM Research Initiative. This extended report, as of its publication date, categorizes and summarizes the full ACCLAIM research opus--quantitative, qualitative, and theoretical reports, including the dissertations completed by the Center's three cohorts of doctoral students. Going Further also offers an internal assessment of the work, a critique of key ideas in the opus, and recommendations for those interested in taking the work of the Center further in the future. It is the only comprehensive report of the Center's research work. It has been archived in the ERIC database, as has nearly all of the Center's research.

>>> Going Further: A Roadmap to the Works of the ACCLAIM Research Initiative

  • The ACCLAIM Seven-site Study (2006-2013)

Starting in 2006, a team of ACCLAIM researchers studied seven sites where educators were making connections between math instruction and local rural communities. Study communities were located in Alabama, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, Washington, Nebraska, Ohio, and Vermont. The first publication from the study, the monograph that discusses this qualitative research project, reported and interpreted findings from each of the seven sites separately; it appeared in 2010. The first peer-reviewed report dealt with one site, Island Community School, and appeared in the Journal or Environmental Education in 2011 (volume 42, number 4, pp. 216-236). The second peer-reviewed report resulted from a formal cross-case analysis and appeared in Children, Youth, and Environments (volume 21, number 1, pp. 101-127). A third peer-reviewed manuscript dealt with the most complex of the seven sites, a district collaborative in a Great Plains State, published in the Journal of Research in Rural Education in 2012 (volume 27, number 3, pp. 1-18). Additionally, a national survey informed by the findings of the seven-site study is nearing completion as of this update (May 2013). 

  • Mike Corbett's ACCLAIM Movie:  Putting Mathematics in Its Place (January 2011, streaming video)

ACCLAIM held its seventh Research Symposium recently, with Mike Corbett's presentation the central event.  Dr. Corbett is author Learning to Leave: The Irony of Schooling in a Coastal Communityhe teaches at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. His intellectual background is sociology and his practical background is 20 years teaching at the elementary level...which means he was indeed a teacher of mathematics. In this movie, Mike interviews two mathematics education colleagues at Acadia, framing the conversation with his own reflections...and a bit of tree felling. The movie is about 50 minutes in length; it's professional quality video work (Mike also teaches videography to teachers); and he and we are making the movie freely available to the planet.  Mike would probably be interested to hear from anyone wanting to create subtitles for it (e.g., our friends in Turkey, Sweden, Germany, France).

>>>  Putting Math in Its Place: The Movie (2011) <<<<

>>>  Putting Math in Its Place: The Paper (2011) <<<<

cbh 09-01-2014