UNAM and UA Partner on Math Instruction for Hispanic Students


In the summer of 2018, the program of support for Mexicans abroad of the National University of Mexico (PAME-UNAM) – with support from the Department of Mathematics of the College of Science of the University of Arizona – organized its first mathematics colloquium, creating a space to discuss mathematics teaching for Hispanics at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

The main purpose of the meeting was to identify problems and propose strategies to help the Hispanic population achieve a better performance in learning mathematics. Three areas were identified: curriculum and content, teachers and teaching, and families.

The colloquium was divided into three parts: lectures, one panel with school district representatives and three round tables, and a final session with conclusions and proposals.

Dr. Marta Civil, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona, Dr. Jorge Madrazo, Director of UNAM Seattle, and Dr. Claudio Estrada, Director of UNAM Tucson, were the organizers of the event.

Dr. Madrazo, Dr. Estrada, and Dr. Douglas Ulmer, Director of the Mathematics Department of the University of Arizona, welcomed the participants and Dr. Estrada moderated the first five lectures.

The first speaker was Dr. Alejandro Ádem, UNAM alum and Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He addressed the need for students to have the mathematic skills needed in the 21st century marketplace. The second speaker was Dr. Erika Camacho, Professor at Arizona State University. She focused on teacher training. Then, Dr. Eugenia Marmolejo from UNAM, College of Science, explained the importance of mathematic thinking for everyday life. She also shared some activities used at the Mexico City Campus to train high school teachers. Dra. Melania Álvarez, from UBC, also shared fun activities that she has used in different regions of British Columbia that have successfully helped enforce mathematic concepts to young students. Dr. Marta Civil, exposed her experiences with CEMELA (Center for the Mathematics Education for Latinos), an interdisciplinary, multi-university consortium focused on the research and practice of the teaching and learning of mathematics with Latino students in the United States.

The next part was a panel moderated by Ambassador Ricardo Pineda, Mexican Consul in Tucson. In this panel, representatives from school districts in the region talked about their experiences teaching mathematics to Latino students.

Three round tables started after the panel. Participants had the opportunity to share their insights about the three areas of the colloquium: curriculum and content, teachers and teaching, and families. At the end, in a plenary session, Dr. Martha Civil and Dr. Alejandro Ádem presented conclusions and proposals.

There was much enthusiasm and interest in the topics discussed, so Dr. Madrazo proposed to hold a second colloquium next year in Seattle, WA.