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ISE and mathematics education research: past and future of NorBa

From September 6 to 7, 2013, University of Tallinn hosted the 9th seminar of  Baltic and Nordic countries Comparative Research in Mathematics Education (NorBa) that gathered nine scientists from seven European countries.

Project was commenced in January 2010, when four project core countries – Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania started the development of survey and research design for the „Comparative Research of Mathematic Teachers’ Beliefs”. The aim of the project was to explore the beliefs of Baltic and Nordic mathematic teachers on teaching mathematics, by developing the adequate research instrument for international comparative research, collecting, analysing and comparing the data in all project countries. The individual beliefs are determined by culture and teachers’ beliefs have different impact on their classrooms. The discovery of teachers’ beliefs cultural differences and determination of the structure of these beliefs can provide the important information both about the classroom activities and teachers’ inclination toward different teaching approaches, therefore empowering the progress of teacher education, courses of teacher professional development as well as improving curricula.

The NorBa project is grounded on the Baltic and Nordic researchers and doctoral students’ network in mathematic education, mobilizing and developing Baltic mathematics education research community and integrating it with Nordic research community. The aim of the network all these years has been the organization of series of seminars where the participants of the project plan for, present and discuss their research. NorBa aims to contribute to the development of high-standard research, informed by already present scientific knowledge and expertise at different not-yet connected institutions or researchers in Baltic and Nordic countries, to establish conditions for competence development of Baltic researchers in mathematics education, to develop communication and dialogue with international research community through the networks international publications, the participation of guest speakers at network seminars and the participation of network members at conferences.

The sustainable values of NorBa Project in the context of Latvia enables the researchers from Latvia to explore the professional activities of Latvian mathematics teachers, thus sustaining teacher education, teacher professional activites and educational policy decisions as to achieve the students’ success in mathematics.

By now the NorBa seminars have been organized mostly in Tallinn, but also in Tartu and Helsinki, and since 2010 the profesor of Institute of Sustainable Education Anita Pipere together with her doctoral students in education Aļesja Šapkova and Liene Briede have been active participants of these events. The benefits of doctoral students obtained in this project are manyfold – in the international context the research skills are developed and inspiration for own research work is attained together with the up-to-date topics for academic publications.

Though the participants of the project are not financially rewarded, they have obtained several significant values of other kind. The participation in this project enabled to:

Join the Project organized by the Singapore National Institute of Education;

  • Get acquainted and establish communication with leading Nordic and European researchers in mathematics education;
  • Gain invaluable experience of research work for the innovative trend of mathematics education research for Latvia;
  • Compare the attitude toward research, researchers, and academic publishing in Nordic countries and Latvia;
  • Accomplish productive research work, becoming the authors and/or co-authors for several publications in serious journals and presentations at Nordic/European/world level conferences, e.g. CERME (Congress of European Research in Mathematics Education), MAVI (Mathematical Views), PME (Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education), NORMA (Nordic Conference of Mathematics Education). Since the beginning of this Project three participants from Latvia have published 18 articles in international peer reviewed journals and proceedings in international conferences, among them in journals included in SCOPUS (3 articles), EBSCO (3 articles), ERIH and Conference Proceedings Citation Index. From 2010 to 2013 representatives of Latvia have participated altogether in 26 international conferences in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Canada, India etc., presenting the results obtained within NorBa Project.  

It certainly must be admitted that such a productive research activities were also stipulated by grants from the ESF Project „Support to implementation of doctoral studies at the Daugavpils University” attained by both doctoral students since 2010.      

Coming back to the recent 9th seminar of NorBa, it seems that due to rather successful dissemination of Project results, at the moment, 12 new countries are confirmed their wish to participate in the Project (Australia, Chile, Czech Republic, Republic of Cyprus, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Norway, Singapore, Russia, Turkey, and Slovenia). During the seminar new participants were introduced with the aims and background of Project, as well as with the survey of project. Future perspectives of Project were elaborated as well as improvement of survey was discussed along with various issues of cross-cultural research.  

Described Project and its current results are telling proof for the idea that to conduct the high level research in education nowadays we urgently need the synergetic and resilient international cooperation in interdisciplinary context allowing to construct new networks, learn from world level researchers and engage  young researchers who are supported by adequate financial resources.

More information about NorBa see

Discussion continues even during the coffee-break 06.09.13 

Discussion continues even during the coffee-break 06.09.13 

NorBa team after the seminar at the Tallinn University 07.09.13 (Markku Hannula – leader of project (University of Helsinki, Finland), Emmanuel Bofah (Finland), Martin Malcik (Czech Republic), Elena Kardanova (Russia), Alena Ponomarjova (Russia), Birgit Griese (Germany), Jan Šunderlik (Slovakia), Madis Lepiks (Estonia), Anita Pipere (Latvia)). 

Moment of the discussion: from left Madis Lepiks, Markku Hannula, Anita Pipere