Math in the classroom

New scientists

Date: October 23, 2017

How can learning and teaching mathematics in secondary schools and universities be improved? This is the question that Prof. Koichu addresses in his daily work.

Prof. Boris Koichu, who joins the Weizmann Institute faculty from the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, believes that scientific progress depends on the education schoolchildren receive— in terms of knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and a passion for mathematics and science. Prof. Koichu focuses his research on how students approach mathematical problem solving.

At the Weizmann Institute, he will be continuing his important work in the field of mathematics education and curriculum development.

His research is driven by the following two-fold query: Which activities in mathematical problem-posing and problem-solving enable students to invent, rather than recall, a mathematical solution? What type of learning occurs when students are engaged in such activities?

In his work at the Weizmann Institute, he will use design experimentation and clinical task-based interviewing. He will focus on the advancement of math learning by exploring the mechanisms of problem-posing and problem-solving in mathematicians and gifted students in the secondary school system. He will then find ways to implement this knowledge to enhance motivation and creativity in students and mathematics teachers. To do this, he will employ a novel research paradigm known as “citizen science,” which involves conducting research in collaboration with teachers.

Prof. Koichu says he came to the Weizmann Institute because, “I appreciate the focus of the Department of Science Teaching on research-based educational projects that have the potential to impact the entire educational system.” Prof. Koichu joined the department in hopes of establishing new fruitful collaborations, and initiating new projects related to his field of expertise in teaching and learning through mathematical problem solving.

Prof. Boris Koichu, who immigrated to Israel from Ukraine in 1998, received an MSc in mathematics from the State University of Lviv in the Ukraine in 1991 through a direct five-year track of study. He earned a PhD in mathematics education from the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in 2004, focusing on how junior high school students approach mathematical problem solving. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in mathematics education at the University of California, San Diego from 2004–2006. Prof. Koichu returned to Israel and joined the Technion Faculty of Education in Science and Technology in 2006.

Prof. Koichu has received awards and recognition for his dedication to mathematics education and teaching, including a Guastello Fellowship for Advancement of Teaching in Science and Technology in Universities for new faculty (2006–2009), a Sandor Szego Award for Excellence in Teaching, Technion (2003), a Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Memorial Fellowship, and a Technion Special Award (2001). Prof. Koichu serves as an editorial board member for academic journals, and is an academic advisor on various projects and programs in the field of mathematics education. He was appointed to the European Mathematical Society Committee for Education in 2014, and was elected to the International Committee of Mathematical Creativity and Giftedness from 2010–2015.