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Dr. Jere Confrey receives the 2012 NC State Innovator of the Year Award

Dr. Confrey receives award

On Nov. 7, GISMO’s own founder, Dr. Jere Confrey, the Joseph D. Moore University Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Education, has been named 2012 Innovator of the Year by North Carolina State University. Presented by the Office of Research, Innovation & Economic Development and the Office of Technology Transfer, Dr. Confrey’s Innovator of the Year award recognizes her leadership in groundbreaking research and innovations in the ideas of mathematics learning trajectories and related diagnostic assessments, the influence of her work on learning trajectories on the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics, and her related work on the National Validation Committee for those Standards.  Over her career, Dr. Confrey has pioneered research with children throughout K-12, articulating the originality, creativity, and predictability of particular ideas that emerge as children undertake engaging tasks of increasing sophistication.  An award that historically has recognized engineering, biomedical, and life- and physical-sciences innovation, Dr. Confrey’s award is the first such award made to a member of our College of Education.

Dr. Confrey began her career as a teacher, and has taught at all levels of our educational system—elementary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels.  She has been a leader in mathematics education for many years, regionally and nationally, and over the years has founded or co-founded groundbreaking programs that have flourished for many years even after she moved on to other endeavors.  Among these are SummerMath program for young women, and SummerMath for teachers, at Mount Holyoke College, and the UTEACH program for Secondary Math and Science teacher preparation, at the University of Texas at Austin.  UTEACH has subsequently served as the model for replicate programs at more than a dozen universities.  Long a proponent and designer of technology for mathematics education, she has designed and developed several software application packages, including Function Finder, FunctionProbe, Graphs n Glyphs, Interactive Diagrams for Precalculus, and LPPSYnc.  Her national and international service has included vice-presidency of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, chair of the Special Interest Group on Research in Mathematics Education, and membership on the National Validation Committee for the Common Core State Standards. She was Vice-Chairperson of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Academy of Sciences, for 1998 to 2004.  She was the chair of a National Research Council committee and chief author of the resulting report On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness, which recommended how to use multiple methods to investigate the effectiveness of curricula.  Earlier, she was a member and co-author of the NRC Committee report Scientific Research in Education.

Dr. Confrey’s work on conceptualizing and developing learning trajectories and developing principles and prototyping of an interactive diagnostic assessment system for mathematics in grades K-8 has led directly to a groundbreaking university-corporate partnership.  She recently took an extended leave of absence from the university to assume the role of Chief Mathematics Officer for Wireless Generation, to create a next-generation, fully digital mathematics learning environment based on learning trajectories, wirelessly networked devices, and diagnostic assessment.  Wireless Generation is headquartered in New York City.  Dr. Confrey’s curriculum development team is based at offices in Durham, with other project teams based in New York and Atlanta.

Firmly believing that the “best is yet to come,” her new role at Wireless Generation is grounded in the belief that new technology has the potential to transform how math is learned, by drawing on learning sciences research, providing opportunities to enrich student interactions, and supporting teachers with just-in-time data.  The partnership with Wireless Generation, following a gradually developing collaboration over the past several years, represents a maturing of several strands of research and technological changes, to the point that this major initiative with a corporate partner dedicated to transforming education, and relying on constant collaboration among talented writers, designers, technologists, analysts, and others, will result in an entire new paradigm for math instruction.