Cultivating Mathematical Affections: The Influence of Christian Faith on Mathematics Pedagogy

Here is some information on my talk at the 20th ACMS Conference (2015) at Redeemer University College. More information can be found in my article of the same title in the June 2015 issue of Perspectives of Science and Christian Faith:


The goal of this paper is to make the case that Christian faith has an opportunity to impact the discussion on best practices in mathematics not primarily through the cognitive discussion on objectives and standards, but through the affective discussion on the formation of values, the cultivation of mathematical affections – not merely knowing, but also loving, and practicing the truth, beauty, and goodness inherent in mathematics.

First I will outline the work being done on affect in mathematics education, examining what values are actually endorsed by the community of mathematics educators. After summarizing this work on affect it will be clear that, even in the words of leading researchers, the field is lacking any cohesive, formal approach to analyzing and assessing the affective domain of learning. In part two of this paper I will argue the thesis that Christian faith offers solutions to the frustrations and shortcomings admitted by researchers on affect in mathematics education. Christian faith offers insight into how mathematical affections might actually be shaped. Here I will draw heavily on the work of philosopher James K.A. Smith and make explicit connection between his work and the mathematics classroom. Finally, I will conclude with a call to action discussing how we as Christian educators might begin to have fruitful contributions to and dialogue with the current research being done in mathematics education.


ACMS Cultivating affections


PDF of talking points outline


Goldin, G.A. (2002). Affect, meta-affect, and mathematical belief structures. In G.C. Leder, E. Pehkonen, & G. Törner (Eds.),  Beliefs: a hidden variable in mathematics education? Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 59-72.

Hadlock, C. R. (2005). Mathematics in service to the community: Concepts and models for service-learning in the mathematical sciences (No. 66). Mathematical Association of America.

Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S., & Masia, B.B. (1964). Taxonomy of educational objectives: Handbook II. Affective Domain. New York: Longman.

McLeod, D.B. (1992). Research on affect in mathematics education: A reconceptualization. In D. A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 575-596). New York: Macmillan.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1991). Standards for teaching mathematics. Reston, VA: NCTM.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1995). Mathematics Assessment Standards. Reston, VA: NCTM.

National Research Council (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Smith, J.K.A. (2009). Desiring the kingdom: Worship, worldview, and cultural formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Veatch, M. (2001). Mathematics and values. In R. Howell & J. Bradley (Eds.), Mathematics in a Postmodern Age: A Christian Perspective. GrandRapids: Eerdmans, pp.223-249.

Zan, R., Brown, L., Evans, J., & Hannula, M.S. (2006). Affect in mathematics education: An introduction. Educational Studies in Mathematics (Affect in Mathematics Education: Exploring Theoretical Frameworks: A PME Special Issue), 63:2, 113-121.


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