LEAD THE CHANGE SERIES Q & A with Elaine Simmt

Dr. Elaine Simmt is a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. Her scholarship is in mathematics education. She began her career as a secondary school teacher of mathematics and physical sciences. She completed doctoral studies in mathematics education under the supervision of Dr. Tom
Kieren. Dr. Simmt also serves as Associate Dean and the Co-Director of the Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education. Dr. Simmt’s research is focused in mathematics education. In particular, she explores teaching and learning as understood through the frames of enactivism and complexity thinking with colleagues Brent Davis, Lynn McGarvey, Jo Towers, Lyndon Martin, Jerome Proulx, Jennifer Thom, Joyce Mgombelo and Florence Glanfield. A second and complementary area of study is centred in teacher education, specifically mathematics-for-teaching. In her most recent work, Dr. Simmt has been involved in international projects in Tanzania and Oman where she and colleagues are working to build capacity for mathematics teaching and learning. Dr. Elaine Simmt can be reached at: esimmt@ualberta.ca

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Dr. Simmt talks about her work with mathematics teaching and learning as well as complexity theory. As Simmt puts it:

I explore mathematics teaching and learning in “classroom” contexts. That is, contexts that are complex by even everyday definitions of complexity. While working with data from a 7th grade mathematics class that I had taught, Brent Davis, Dennis Sumara, and I
had been co-teaching courses in cognition and curriculum, and doing in-service work with K-12 teachers. The synergy from these activities resulted in us specifically focusing on learning systems in complexity terms. Particularly we were interested in the emergence of “the class” as a collective learning system (Davis & Simmt, 2003; Davis & Simmt, 2006; Davis, Simmt, Sumara, 2006). This work continues today among a group of colleagues (McGarvey et al., 2018).

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Kristin Kew and Kirsi Pyhältö.

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