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Thomas P. Carpenter

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines research as “careful, systematic, patient study and investigation in some field of knowledge undertaken to discover or establish facts or principles.” This definition is reflected in the perspective that the purpose of educational research is to provide definitive answers to important pedagogical questions.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

Research in mathematics education and related fields is in the midst of a major paradigm shift. This has lead to a great deal of discussion in the research community about standards of evidence. Whatever the methodology, questions of standards of evidence ultimately boil down to whether the conclu ions drawn on the basis of a given study are warranted or whether there are plausible alternative hypotheses that are not consistent with the conclusions. In this case plausibility is evaluated not in terms of whether the conclusions themselves are plausible but whether a compelling case has been built that the evidence leads to the conclusions. In other words, we should not evaluate research in tenns of whether it tells a story that we resonate with, but whether the evidence presented leads to the conclusions drawn. On several occasions I have encouraged researchers to submit articles to the joumal based on discussions of findings that l found particularly compelling. Only when it was possible to examine a complete report of the studies did it become apparent that there were such serious flaws in methodology that the validity of the conclusions was called into question. The authors had an interesting story to tell. but they did not have evidence to support it that was convincing to the reviewers.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

It might seem a little strange for the editors of a journal whose mission is to publish the highest quality research in the field to be debating proactive and reactive stances of the journal. All the articles that appear in the journal are submitted for publication by the authors and are peer revjewed, and each of the editors has gone to great lengths to ensure that all submissions have received fair reviews. If the editor or the editorial panel were to take a strongly proactive stance in deciding which research is of most value, there is a danger that the openness and fairness of the review process would be compromised. to everyone's loss.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

Children's Counting Types takes a different approach to the study of counting than most other analyses (d. Fuson & Hall, 1983; Gelman & Gallistel, 1978). It is not concerned with the learning of number word sequences or how children acquire the ability to count sets of objects. In fact, it picks up where most other research on counting leaves off. Steffe and his colleagues define counting as the correspondence of number words with the things to be counted, which they call “unit items” or “units.” Their primary concern is the development of the ability co count increasingly abstract unit items.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

This issue marks the beginning of the twentieth year of publication of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. As a parent of two teenagers, I fully appreciate the significance of this milestone. Over the first two decades the journal has undergone a number of transformations. Departments have been added, and a variety of cosmetic changes have been instituted. What has remained constant throughout the period bas been the commitment to publish high quality research articles in mathematics education.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

One of the most basic questions with regard to mathematical thinking is “What is mathematical thinking?” This question Is not the kind that is readily answered by empirical research. However, research can provide some perspective on the nature of mathematical thought if the question is rephrased: “What characterizes the thinking of individuals who have demonstrated a high level of ability in mathematics?” Research that compares the abilities of very capable mathematics students with those of less capable students or the problem-solving processes exhibited by experts and novices otfers some insights into this question.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

The purpose of this study was to identify some of the aspects of the measurement process that young children naturally attend to and those that they ignore or are unable to make use of. Specifically the study attempted to assess the degree to which young children rely on perceptual comparisons, or at least require perceptual support, for their measurement operations. Another factor that was investigated was whether measurement comparisons involving equal quantities are of the same difficulty as those involving unequal quantities. Finally, the study attempted to identify some of the misconceptions regarding the measurement process that result from these and other factors.

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Thomas P. Carpenter

One score and ten years ago our forebears brought forth on this continent a new curriculum, conceived in academia and dedicated to the proposition that all students can learn mathematics with understanding.

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Elizabeth Fennema and Thomas P. Carpenter

The second mathematics assessment of the National Assessment of Educational Progress provides new insight into the problems of sex-related differences in mathematics. Information about course taking and achievement in specific content areas and at different cognitive levels is available from a representative national sample of over 70 000 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds. The purpose of this article is to report the sex-related differences that were found in this assessment and to explore the significance of these differences.

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Thomas P. Carpenter and Ruth Lewis

The purpose of this study was to find the degree to which young children recognize the importance of maintaining a standard unit of measure in a measurement operation and how they acquire the knowledge that the number of units measured is inversely related to the size of the unit.