A second major ICMI programme is the series of ICMI Studies. This set of activities was launched in the mid-80s and has acquired a growing importance and influence on the field. It contributes to a better understanding and resolution of the challenges that face multidisciplinary and culturally diverse research and development in mathematics education.
Each Study focuses on a topic or issue of prominent current interest in mathematics education. Built around an international conference, it is directed towards the preparation of a published volume intended to promote and assist discussion and action at the international, regional or institutional level. The main emphasis of a given Study may be on analytical or action-oriented aspects, but some analytical component will always be present.
An ICMI Study follows a series of steps. First, the Executive Committee of ICMI decides upon a theme. It then appoints an International Program Committee (IPC), which on behalf of ICMI is responsible for conducting the Study. Usually, a country that is willing to host the corresponding Study Conference has been identified concurrently with the appointment of the IPC.
The first task of the IPC is to produce a Discussion Document in which a number of key issues and sub-themes related to the theme of the Study are identified and described in a preliminary manner. The Discussion Document is widely disseminated internationally to solicit papers from the field. From these submissions, invitations are issued to a limited number of participants (about 80) in an international conference constituting a working forum that investigates the theme of the study. Particular emphasis is given to bringing together to the Study conference both experts in the field and newcomers 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.
Beyond the productive interaction and collaborations occasioned by the Study conference, its main product is a research volume, synthesising the results of the conference and presenting a state-of-the-art expert report on the Study theme. The Study volumes constitute the (New) ICMI Studies Series (NISS), appearing under the general editorship of the President and the Secretary-General of ICMI and now published by Springer. The ICMI Study volumes reflect the great variety of issues and concerns in the field of mathematics education and are of interest to educational researchers, curriculum developers, educational policy makers, teachers of mathematics, and to mathematicians and educators involved in the professional education and development of teachers of mathematics.
This process typically stretches over a period of about three to four years per study.
Information is available on this website on current ICMI Studies as well as on past ICMI Studies.