With psychology and math so tightly interwoven, the APA Task Force on Math and Science Education expounded the role psychologists can play in refining math education at APA's 2007 Annual Convention.
The group's goal is to determine where research in the area can go in the future, said Temple University psychologist and Task Force Chair Nora Newcombe, PhD. "We want to figure out how to foster ongoing research and ongoing communication in this area in such a way that we can make continuing advances," Newcombe said.
She sees the relationship between psychology and education as similar to that between biology and medicine-the underlying principles have to be tested and tested again before they are useful in a practical setting. So psychologists need to have a role in evaluating curricula, testing new concepts and communicating the principles to teachers, she said.
Of course, there are uncertainties and controversies in this field, such as gender differences in math and science learning ability, she added. The task force's role is to look at how those disagreements arise, what can be done to resolve them, and how new findings should be passed on to teachers, Newcombe believes.
"How information goes back and forth is an enormous [issue], and a really politically fraught one," Newcombe said. "It's really unexplored territory."
The task force held its final meeting in September and is now preparing its final report.