University of Arizona leads effort to create Center for Mathematics Education of Latinos


An interdisciplinary group from the University of Arizona's mathematics department in the College of Science and the department of language, reading and culture in the College of Education has been awarded a five-year, $10-million grant by the National Science Foundation.

The grant will create the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA) across four states, including universities and public school districts in Arizona, Illinois, California and New Mexico. CEMELA partners in Arizona are the UA, Sunnyside Unified School District and Tucson Unified School District.

Dean of the College of Education Ron Marx says, "These are extremely tough national competitions, and the UA group prepared a first-rate winning proposal."

The Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as will address the mathematics education needs of the large and rapidly-growing Latino population in the country. The goal of CEMELA is to advance the field of mathematics education by developing an integrated model that connects mathematics teaching and learning to the cultural, social and linguistic contexts of Latinos. CEMELA also hopes to achieve this goal by increasing the number of mathematics educators and teachers with this integrated knowledge to ultimately improve the mathematics education of working-class Latinos.

Marx says, "The award signals the leadership role that the University of Arizona plays in developing programs and resources for Hispanic students in Arizona and across the nation. The leadership team for CEMELA represents the interdisciplinary strength of the University, drawing scholars from the College of Science and the College of Education."

CEMELA will develop leaders in mathematics education by recruiting and supporting doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows to participate in research and teacher education activities, conduct research by supporting faculty, doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and teachers in collaborative research projects and strengthen pre-service and in-service teachers' ability to promote Latinos' achievement in mathematics.

Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the College of Science, says, "The University of Arizona has continuously demonstrated its commitment to our community through innovative programs that support the teaching of science and mathematics in the K-12 educational system."

Ruiz adds, "This is another example in which faculty members of the university have been able to garner federal funds to support our local community. The acquisition of the grant also demonstrates that our faculty are considered leaders in developing programs to educate Hispanic students in mathematics and science."

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Juan Garcia says, "This represents another important step in making the University of Arizona a Hispanic-serving institution. I'm especially pleased with the collaboration between the colleges of Education and Science. These two colleges have historically been supportive of our Latino and Latina students and the community."

"The growing presence of Hispanic students in the nation's schools, particularly in Arizona and other southwestern states, requires new approaches to curriculum and instruction," Marx says. "The cultural and linguistic diversity that Hispanic students bring to the classroom needs to be recognized as a resource that can benefit all students. The work of CEMELA will enable schools to help all students achieve success in mathematics to prepare them for their futures in higher education and as productive and active citizens."

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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