2018 Award for Excellence in Mathematics Winner Announced

Photo of Sybilla Beckmann Kazez

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: March 29, 2018

Texas A&M University is delighted to announce the recipient of the 2018 Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education: Dr. Sybilla Beckmann Kazez.

Dr. Beckmann Kazez, a professor at the University of Georgia, was selected for her distinguished and sustained contributions in improving mathematical education for pre-service elementary teachers through textbook development, teaching and research. By emphasizing the integration of mathematical key topics and pedagogy in elementary teacher preparation, Dr. Beckmann Kazez has promoted the development of mathematics teacher education as an interdisciplinary field.

Dr. Beckmann Kazez’s efforts in strengthening mathematics teacher preparation started with her teaching of the mathematics courses for elementary teacher candidates at University of Georgia. Dissatisfied with the available textbooks, she decided to write a text for her own use. It has since been published by Addison-Wesley (now Pearson). Its distinctive character, with patient, sensible and down-to-earth, but thorough and careful, explanations of key mathematics topics, has won it wide acceptance among mathematically discerning instructors. Dr. Beckmann Kazez went to great lengths to make sure the text addressed the most relevant topics in authentic ways, including teaching a 6th grade mathematics class at a local public school. Her book is intended for use with an inquiry-based teaching style, and it has become the leading teacher preparation textbook in the U.S. for this approach. Building on her textbook development and teaching, she has also become actively engaged in mathematics education research. She collaborates with her colleagues to study how teacher candidates approach multiplicative thinking, especially proportional reasoning. This research, funded by NSF, provides further empirical support to her textbook development.

Dr. Beckmann's understanding of the issues of mathematics education have led to her being sought beyond her home institution, to contribute to projects of national and international significance. As examples, she was part of the Work Team for developing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM). She was recruited by the National Research Council to help write their report on early childhood mathematics education. She was part of the writing team for the recent CBMS report: The Mathematical​ Education of Teachers. She was also recruited by the Institute for Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education to write a guide to Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 to 8. Through these widely promulgated documents and reports, she has exercised considerable influence on mathematics education nationwide. She recently contributed to international mathematics education through membership on the International Program Committee of the ICMI Study 23 on Whole Number Arithmetic. She has also developed a website, called the Mathematics Teaching Community, aiming to engage mathematicians in discussing and sharing how to teach mathematics well.

Dr. Beckmann Kazez received her doctorate in mathematics in 1986 from the University of Pennsylvania. After a postdoctoral appointment at Yale University, she joined the University of Georgia since 1988, as an assistant, associate, and then full professor. She has received several teaching awards from the University of Georgia, and in 2011 she was awarded the Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professorship. She received the Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education from the Association for Women in Mathematics in 2014, and Mary P. Dolciani Award from the Mathematical Association of America in 2015.