The series of so-called ICMI Studies was launched in the mid-80s in order to investigate themes (key issues or topic areas) of particular significance to the theory or practice of contemporary mathematics education. The general aim of a Study is not to give any "ICMI-labeled" solution to any educational problem, to use the words of former ICMI President Jean-Pierre Kahane, but rather to provide an up-to-date presentation and analysis of the state-of-the-art concerning a theme, whether by identifying and describing current research contributions and their findings, or by identifying and discussing issues involving genuine controversies or dilemmas and the different positions towards them held by various mathematics educators. An ICMI Study may give emphasis to either analytical or action oriented investigations, but some analytical component will always be present. Built around an international seminar, each Study in directed towards the preparation of a published volume intended to promote and assist discussion and action at the international, national, regional or institutional level.
The first ICMI Studies were implemented by the 1983-1986 Executive Committee of ICMI under the leadership of President Jean-Pierre Kahane and Secretary Geoffrey Howson. The Studies have proved over the years to be a very successful set of activities of ICMI and it is the intent of the current Executive Committee to pursue them in the same spirit.
With only one exception up to now (see Study No. 4 below), the typical scheme of an ICMI Study runs as follows.
Once a theme has been decided upon by the Executive Committee of ICMI, the initial step is the appointment by the EC of an International Program Committee which on behalf of ICMI is responsible for conducting the Study. The first task of the IPC is the production of a Discussion Document to set the stage for the Study by identifying, presenting and discussing in a preliminary manner a general problématique, a number of key issues and sub-themes related to the theme of the Study. The Discussion Document is published and circulated internationally as widely as possible in journals and newsletters, including in this Bulletin and in L’Enseignement mathématique (the official organ of ICMI). Readers are invited to react in writing to the Discussion Document by submitting ideas, proposals, abstracts or drafts of papers and suchlike for consideration by the IPC.
On the basis of the reactions received and of the deliberations within the IPC itself, the IPC invites a limited number (50-100) of individuals to participate in an invited Study Conference which will form a working forum for investigating the theme of the Study. (An exception to this was Study No. 2, where the seminar gathered only fifteen selected participants.) Particular emphasis is given to bringing together both "veteran" international experts in the field and not-yet-as-known "novices" with interesting ideas or promising work in progress, as well as to gathering representatives with a variety of backgrounds from different regions, traditions and cultures.
Finally, a Study Volume, resulting from the contributions presented to the Study Conference as well as from the discussions that took place there, is published under the general editorship of the ICMI Study Series editors, the President and Secretary of ICMI. For each volume, specific editors are appointed, normally including the Chair or Co-Chairs of the IPC, the format of publication ranging from a collection of selected and edited papers to a comprehensive monographic exposition. The nature of such a volume is not that of a conference proceedings.
Of the eleven Studies that have been organized until now, nine have been fully completed, up to the appearance of the corresponding Study Volumes (and occasionally other publications as well). These are
Study Conference held in Strasbourg, France, March 1985.
Study Volume published by Cambridge University Press, 1986, eds: R.F. Churchhouse et al. (ICMI Study Series)
Second edition published by UNESCO, 1992, eds: Bernard Cornu and Anthony Ralston. (Science and Technology Education No. 44)
No general Study Conference. The Study Volume was prepared by the editors on the basis of contributions received in response to the Discussion Document and the work of a small invited group of fifteen mathematics educators who took part in a closed international seminar in Kuwait in February 1986.
Study Volume published by Cambridge University Press, 1986, eds: Geoffrey Howson and Bryan Wilson. (ICMI Study Series)
Study Conference held in Udine, Italy, April 1987.
Study Volume published by Cambridge University Press, 1988, eds: Geoffrey Howson, Jean-Pierre Kahane, Pierre Lauginie and Elisabeth de Turckheim. (ICMI Study Series)
Volume of Selected Papers published by Springer-Verlag, 1988: Selected Papers on the Teaching of Mathematics as a Service Subject, eds: Richard R. Clements, Pierre Lauginie and Elisabeth de Turckheim. (CISM Courses and Lectures No. 305)
No general Study Conference — book prepared under the responsibility of PME.
Study Volume published by Cambridge University Press, 1990, eds: Pearla Nesher and Jeremy Kilpatrick. (ICMI Study Series)
Study Conference held in Leeds, UK, September 1989.
Study Volume published by Cambridge University Press, 1990, eds: Geoffrey Howson and Jean-Pierre Kahane. (ICMI Study Series)
Study Conference held in Calonge, Spain, April 1991.
Two Study Volumes published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993: Cases of Assessment in Mathematics Education and Investigations into Assessment in Mathematics Education, ed: Mogens Niss. (New ICMI Study Series 1 and 2)
Study Conference held in Höör, Sweden, October 1993.
Study Volume published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996: Towards Gender Equity in Mathematics Education, ed: Gila Hanna. (New ICMI Study Series 3)
Proceedings of the Study Conference published by Lund University Press, 1995, eds: Barbro Grevholm and Gila Hanna.
Study Conference held in College Park, USA, May 1994.
Study Volume (two books) published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998: Mathematics Education as a Research Domain: A Search for Identity, eds: Anna Sierpinska and Jeremy Kilpatrick. (New ICMI Study Series 4)
Study Conference held in Catania, Italy, September 1995.
Study Volume published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998, eds: Carmelo Mammana and Vinicio Villani. (New ICMI Study Series 5)
As indicated by former Secretary Mogens Niss in his Report on ICMI Activities in 1998, appearing on pp. 17-20 of this Bulletin, two ICMI Study Conferences took place last year and the corresponding Study Volumes are now being edited.
67 participants from 28 different countries met in Luminy (near Marseille, France) from April 25 to 28, 1998, for the Study Conference on this theme. The International Program Committee is chaired jointly by Professors John Fauvel (UK) and Jan van Maanen (the Netherlands), who also serve as co-editors of the Study Volume, expected to appear in 1999/2000.
The first regular ICMI Study Conference to be organized outside Europe or North America took place in Singapore from December 8 to 12, 1998 and gathered 89 participants from 25 countries. Derek Holton (New Zealand) chairs the IPC for this Study. He is also editing the Volume to appear in the ICMI Study Series in 2000/2001, in addition to a set of Selected Papers to be published as a special issue of the International Journal for Mathematical Education in Science and Technology in 2000.
A new Study has been launched just before the previous ICMI Executive Committee completed its term. The topic is The Future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra and the IPC is composed as follows:
Kaye Stacey (University of Melbourne, Australia), Chair
David Carlson (San Diego State University, USA)
Jean-Philippe Drouhard (IREM de Nice, France)
Desmond Fearnley-Sander (University of Tasmania, Australia)
Toshiakira Fujii (Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan)
Carolyn Kieran (Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada)
Barry Kissane (Murdoch University, Australia)
Romulo Lins (UNESP, Rio Claro, Brazil)
Luis Puig (Universitat de València, Spain)
Teresa Rojano (CINVESTAV, Mexico)
Kenneth Ruthven (University of Cambridge, UK)
Bernard R. Hodgson (Université Laval, Québec, Canada), ex officio, representing the ICMI EC.
Barry McCrae (University of Melbourne, Australia) will chair the Local Organizing Committee for the Study Conference, expected to take place at the University of Melbourne in July 2001. The Discussion Document for this Study should appear in the June 2000 issue of this Bulletin and around the same time in other journals. For further information please contact the Chair of the IPC:
Professor Kaye Stacey
Department of Science and Mathematics Education
University of Melbourne
Parkville, Victoria 3052
Fax: +61 3 9344 8739
Typically, the ICMI Executive Committee is facing at any given time three different Studies under way in different stages: a first one might just have been initiated, the recently appointed IPC being at work on the production of the Discussion Document; another might be close to the Study Conference, the selection of the participants having been completed; and a third one might be in the final stage of the editing process of the Study Volume.
But another component of this procedure concerns the identification of themes for future Studies. The experience of the past years is that the Executive Committee is regularly tossing half-a-dozen or so potential themes, one of these being perceived at a certain point as ripe for a forthcoming Study.
At this moment, one such theme has been identified by the previous ICMI EC: A Comparative Study of Mathematics Education in the East and in the West. It has been suggested that the corresponding Study Conference could take place in Hong Kong late in 2001 or early in 2002. A decision about this should be made soon by the current EC.
Other themes for Studies have been mentioned regularly in the past, including among others: applications and modeling; the teaching of probability; teacher education and development (including the mathematical preparation of primary school teachers); mathematics for and from the workplace; IT revisited; proofs and proving; etc. Readers are encouraged to contact the Secretary to provide comments and opinions on these and other possibilities.
The Study Volumes for Studies 1-5, published by Cambridge University Press, are now out of print. The Volumes for Studies 6-9 are available from Kluwer Academic Publishers. Readers are reminded of the following special arrangements with Kluwer:
Individuals may purchase the paperback edition of the Study Volumes published by Kluwer Academic Publishers at a considerably reduced rate (2/3 of the regular paperback price) if the book is ordered through ICMI.
Those wanting to take advantage of this opportunity should contact the Secretary at the address indicated on page 1 of this Bulletin to receive a special order form. Contents of the Study Volumes and prices can be found on the Kluwer website:
(where "NISS" stands for New ICMI Study Series).
Bernard R. Hodgson