Research in Mathematics Education

Research in Mathematics Education has been associated with the four public universities (UCR, UNA, UNED, TEC), in most cases with the department or schools in charge of teaching Mathematics. The research in those universities has been carried out through projects, programs and research centers. The results can be seen in conference proceeding, journals, books and in presentations at various national and international events on the teaching of Mathematics. Recently, articles have appeared in the official publications associated with the MEP.

There are significant differences in the importance given to research at each institution. Such differences are largely the results of the size and historical global maturity of each institution.

  • • At UNED research began recently in 2010.
  • • In the last decade TEC has developed research projects. Most of them have used qualitative methods. They have carried out documentary studies and various actions related to the use of technology.
  • • At UNA, specifically in Mathematics Education, there was outstanding work between 2001 and 2009.
  • • UCR has developed most of the research in Mathematics Education and has played a leadership role.

The research that was carried out between 1974 and 1990 in the School of Mathematics at UCR (and in the rest of the country) was presented at the National Congresses of Mathematics (in 1983, 1985 and 1990) (Ruiz et al. 2003). From 1990 until 2012 the main venue was the Costa Rican Symposia on Mathematics, Science and Society. The other academic events summarized above have also served as a means to report on research that has been done in the country.

The Center for Research on Mathematics and Meta-Mathematics (CIMM) was born at UCR in 1997. It is the only formal research center in the country that includes Mathematics Education as one of its main specializations.

Linked to the CIMM from 2001 to 2009, there was significant Mathematics Education research carried out at UNA’s School of Mathematics (an institution that previously had been associated with very little such research). The generator of this special effort was a project called Support for Research in the School of Mathematics (designed and directed by Angel Ruiz) with the support of the University Research Office and the School of Mathematics (Edwin Chaves, the School’s Director during the last 4 years of this period, played a decisive role in the success of the project). This project was responsible for many research projects, including, in 2009, the Program for Research and Teacher Preparation in Mathematics Education (PIFEM), dozens of publications and the organization of many academic events. At the end of 2009, with the departure of Angel Ruiz from UNA, PIFEM was closed, the formal collaboration with CIMM ended, and research in Mathematics Education at UNA decreased considerably.

One of the results of the collaboration between CIMM and UNA’s School of Mathematics was the creation in 2007 of a Program in Research and Preparation in Mathematics Education that since 2011 has been called the Center for Research and Teacher Preparation in Mathematics Education ( Researchers from UNED and the MEP have also been integrated into the work of this Program and latter Center.

Since the 1980s the most important research in Mathematics Education carried out at UCR and UNA was developed under the leadership of Angel Ruiz.

An important dimension worth mentioning is the relationship that Costa Rican researchers have had with the international community, particularly Edison de Faria and Angel Ruiz: De Faria with the Latin American Committee on Educational Mathematics for many years, and Ruiz with the Inter-American Committee on Mathematics Education (since 1987) and the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (since 2010). A result of the international connections fostered by Ruiz was the realization in Costa Rica of the Capacity and Networking Project (CANP 2). This event received more international support for the teaching of Mathematics than any other that has been held in the Central American region. It also permitted the creation of the Mathematics Education Network for Central America and the Caribbean (

A crucial moment in the evolution of the teaching of Mathematics in Costa Rica occurred when various researchers from the Center for Research and Teacher Preparation in Mathematics Education in 2010-2012 wrote a new curriculum for school Mathematics and began its implementation in 2013.

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