Research Excellence Award

The "Research Excellence Award" is awarded to a faculty member in the Faculty of Professional Studies with at least two years teaching experience at Acadia who has a consistent record of acknowledged excellence in scholarly activity.

Dr. Ayman Aljarrah believes that the cultivation of mathematical creativity within public education is particularly relevant in Canada, not only to improve mathematics teaching and learning, but also for the development of new forms of learning for the 21st Century, with potential social and economic benefits. In the long term, Dr. Aljarrah believes that practical insights from his work on collective creativity will help to prepare future generations negotiating an uncertain world that requires innovative approaches to global problems. Insights from Dr. Aljarrah’s research work on collective creativity have also informed his own practice as a mathematics educator and teacher educator. A significant part of his teaching practices is to discuss the results of his research with the class participants and to offer them genuine classroom opportunities to experience and practice creative and collaborative ways of learning.

“During his time at the University of Calgary, Ayman distinguished himself as a thoughtful and engaged scholar with a sophisticated grasp of theory and practice and his most recent works show that he continues to develop theoretically-rich contributions to the literature. In terms of the quality of Ayman’s work, the metaphors for collective creativity that he has developed and disseminated constitute a significant contribution to the literature in the field of creativity studies and have been very well received. Indeed, Ayman’s work pushes the boundary of creativity studies in examining the phenomenon of collective creativity—the creative potential and achievements of groups acting together. This is ground-breaking work that brings together ideas from diverse disciplines such as mathematics education, creativity studies, and improvisational theory to posit metaphors that elucidate different ways of thinking about the activity involved in generating creative ideas in groups. His work has important implications for teachers seeking ways to act in classrooms to foster creative thinking, in the domain of mathematics and beyond. I feel strongly that there is a depth of theorization and practical application inherent in Ayman’s studies of collective creativity that he has only just begun to tap and that his initial theorizations are likely to be the fertile ground for much future work for Ayman and other scholars interested in fostering creativity in schools”. (Dr. Jo Towers, University of Calgary).

Dr. Aljarrah’s research “is connected to the professional formation of mathematics teachers and in an understanding of how creativity can be integrated into mathematics education. This is extremely important and difficult work that involves helping beginning teachers understand the connections between contemporary international scholarship in mathematics learning, the school curriculum, and the pragmatics of how to develop rich classroom tasks and assessments that inspire creativity and problem-solving rather than just mechanical calculation. His emphasis on collective or socially situated creativity is pushing the boundaries of mathematics education scholarship in new and important directions following what has been described as the “social turn” in education scholarship which is compliments and critiques the discipline’s foundational grounding in psychology.” (Dr. Michael Corbett, Acadia University).

Dr. Ayman Aljarrah “has a wealth of elementary, secondary, and post-secondary teaching experience on which to draw and this expansive and culturally diverse experience deepens the perspective he brings to classroom research projects. He is able to fluidly interact with children, understanding and interpreting in the moment the varied and creative ways that children think, and this means he is able to gather meaningful data that is rich and that lends itself to multiple interpretations. Because of this, Ayman has been able to develop a significant number of high-quality publications and presentations.” (Dr. Jo Towers, University of Calgary).

“Ayman is very connected to schools and teaching and, while theoretically rigorous, his scholarship is also intimately tied to practice and has significant import for the design of curricula and for teaching practice. Ayman’s work is very much grounded in classroom practice and speaks meaningfully to practitioners. He values speaking directly to teachers through practitioner venues and has published his work in Delta-K, the Alberta Teachers’ Association journal for secondary mathematics teachers, and presented at IDEAS, a conference that brings together teachers and researchers to examine practice-focused research ideas, at the annual meeting of the Mathematics Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and at the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Summer Learning Academy” (Dr. Jo Towers, University of Calgary).

“Ayman is an exceptionally caring and respectful educator, and he strives to make every encounter a positive one, for students and his colleagues alike. This disposition, I feel, has contributed directly to the exceptionally rich data he as thus far been able to gather, and is reflected in the carefully chosen, highly educative mathematics problems he poses for study participants to solve, the gentle ways in which he intervenes in their problem-solving processes, and the strong relationships he has been able to build with the teachers and administrators of the schools where his research takes place. These rich data, under Ayman’s careful stewardship, have generated creative findings that have contributed important insights for the field, including several papers on the new metaphors I have already mentioned but also with regard to children’s play in the domain of mathematics”. (Dr. Jo Towers, University of Calgary).

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