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The Felix Klein Medal for 2011

Alan H. Schoenfeld, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Citation for the 2011 ICMI Felix Klein Award to Professor Alan H. Schoenfeld

It is with great pleasure that the ICMI Awards Committee hereby announces that the Felix Klein Medal for 2011 is given to the Elizabeth and Edward Connor Professor of Education and Affiliated Professor of Mathematics, Alan H. Schoenfeld, University of California at Berkeley, USA, in recognition of his more than thirty years of sustained, consistent, and outstanding lifetime achievements in mathematics education research and development. Alan Schoenfeld, a research mathematician by training, developed his keen interest in mathematics education early on in his career. He quickly emerged as a pioneer and leader in research on mathematical problem solving and, more broadly, on mathematical thinking, teaching, and learning. His scholarly work shows a remarkable life-long pursuit of deeper understanding of the nature and development of mathematical learning and teaching at different educational levels. Starting with work on mathematical problem solving in the late 1970s, he broadened his interests in the mid-1980s to focus on mathematical teaching and teachers’ proficiency. His work has helped to shape research and theory development in these areas, making a seminal impact on subsequent research. Alan Schoenfeld has also done fundamental theoretical and applied work that connects research and practice in assessment, mathematical curriculum, diversity in mathematics education, research methodology, and teacher education. His work is internationally acclaimed across disciplines with more than 200 highly-cited publications in mathematics education, mathematics, educational research, and educational psychology. His scholarship is of the highest quality, reflected in esteemed recognition from mathematical, scientific, teaching, and educational organizations over the years.


Another significant component of Alan Schoenfeld’s achievements is the mentoring he has provided to graduate students and scholars; he has nurtured a generation of new scholars who generate increasing impact on the field of mathematics education research, both nationally and internationally. Alan Schoenfeld’s achievements also include a remarkable amount of outstanding work for national, regional, and international communities in education, mathematics, and mathematics education. He has provided important leadership in prestigious professional associations and joint research endeavors, both nationally and internationally, and has been an invited keynote speaker at numerous conferences around the globe.


Alan Schoenfeld began his career as a research mathematician. After obtaining a B.A. in mathematics from Queen’s College, New York, in 1968, and an M.S in mathematics from Stanford University in 1969, he began his doctoral studies in mathematics at Stanford, earning a Ph.D. in 1973. He became a lecturer at the University of California at Davis in 1973, and in 1975 a lecturer and research mathematician in the Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (SESAME) at the University of California at Berkeley. During that time at Berkeley, he became interested in mathematics education research. This interest has kept him in the field of mathematics education for the rest of his professional career. After academic appointments at Hamilton College (1978-1981) and the University of Rochester (1981-1984), Alan Schoenfeld was invited back to U.C. Berkeley in 1985 to develop the mathematics education group. He has been a full professor since 1987, and now has a named chair in education and is an affiliated professor in the mathematics department. He has also been a Special Professor of the University of Nottingham since 1994.


Alan Schoenfeld’s high-quality work and dedicated effort have earned him leadership positions in renowned professional associations in education, mathematics, and mathematics education. He has been, among his many other leadership roles, an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Education since 1994, a member of its Executive Board in 1995, and Vice President in 2001. He also served as the President Elect/President/Past President of American Educational Research Association (AERA) from 1997 to 2000. In addition, he has been instrumental in shaping the professional development of mathematics teachers by, for example, his service to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics where he led the writing team for the high school standards of the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, published in 2000.


It is, of course, impossible to point to more than a few of Alan Schoenfeld’s publications. Suffice it to mention his highly-cited, groundbreaking book, Mathematical Problem Solving (1985), his chapter on cognition and metacognition, Learning to think mathematically: Problem solving, metacognition, and sense-making in mathematics (in the 1992 Handbook for Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning), his rigorous study of the development and learning of a complex mathematical idea, Learning (1993, co-authored with J.P. Smith and A.A. Arcavi), his finely-detailed work on teacher decision making, Toward a theory of teaching-in-context (published in Issues in Education in 1998), and his most recent book, How We Think (2010). Alan Schoenfeld’s seminal theoretical contributions are all based on, and buttressed by, long sequences of carefully designed experiments and their exhaustive analysis.


In summary, Alan H. Schoenfeld is an eminently worthy recipient of the Felix Klein Medal for 2011.

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