Summer 2004     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 8, Issue 2     Editorial (2)
The field of mathematics made possible the great achievements 
of the scientific revolution and is today indispensable in science, technology, and 
many professions. Mathematics is no longer regarded as a unitary, simple subject in 
the curriculum, but it is considered to be a separate form of literacy, and by some 
even to be a separate language, with inherent theoretical and logical content, a 
classical art, and the only universal language. In spite of its importance, the 
typical student learns only enough utilitarian math or arithmetic to cope with 
common daily problems, a level of knowledge incommensurate with the demands of 
modern democracies. As the mathematician and author John Allen Paulos warned, 
failure of politicians, journalists, and common citizens to understand mathematics 
leads to poor decisions and bad public policies. 

Problems of innumeracy have become a matter of concern in many nations, especially 
as mathematics is now the essential gateway to higher education and studies in 
advanced and technical areas. As attention has been drawn to the problems students 
at all levels experience in this field, the teacher who must assist them is faced 
with a challenge that is often frustrating and at times disheartening. Recent 
instructional reform, especially in the United States, has focused on sense making 
and problem solving rather than rote memorization of facts and processes and 
computational problems. Even so, current reforms in math education are similar to 
those of a generation ago, when "new math" was introduced without sound research 
but an earnest eagerness to experiment with untried procedures. Some issues stir 
controversy and debate, such as phonics versus whole language, sex education, 
school prayer, or evolution, but mathematics reform escapes the attention of the 

Without a doubt, research about math must continue in order to determine the 
effectiveness of current and proposed reforms, and to evaluate the success of 
programs that are implemented in the K-12 and higher education curricula. This 
special edition of research about math education provides research articles ranging 
elementary and post-secondary education topics, including current interest in math 
anxiety, gender and cultural diversity, mathematical thinking, contextual learning, 
parent involvement, computer-assisted instruction, the use of calculators, and 
pedagogical knowledge of teachers. It is hoped that these articles will spark a 
continued interest in research in this important field and highlight the efforts of 
researchers who are engaged in important endeavors that may otherwise go unnoticed 
in the hurly-burly of educational politics.  

Dr. George E. Marsh II               Dr. Barrie Jo Price               Dr. Anna C. McFadden

The University of Alabama