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Productive Struggle: Persevering Through Challenges



43rd Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education

Join us in historic Philadelphia, PA on October 14-17, 2021 for the 43rd Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA 43). This will be the first meeting of PME-NA in Pennsylvania, and the first since 1989 to be held in the Northeastern United States.

Proposals for ALL session types (Research Reports, Brief Research Reports, Posters, Working Groups, and Research Colloquia) are due by March 12, 2021.

The 2021 Conference Theme is Productive Struggle: Persevering through Challenges

2020 brought us a global pandemic and with it, many challenges for mathematics education research. Public schools faced a sudden and prolonged transition to distance education, while higher education experienced a budget crisis as well as the loss of in-person classes and traditional field experiences for teacher education. Many researchers and their communities have encountered unforeseen difficulties including personal or family illness, employment loss, and a child-care crunch, all of which fell disproportionately onto already-vulnerable populations. Meanwhile, demonstrations for racial justice highlighted the insidious effects of racism throughout our society.

Our 2021 conference theme, "Productive Struggle: Persevering through Challenges," attempts to re- frame these challenges through the lens of productive struggle. We aim to embrace the power of appropriate struggle as an opportunity for learning and growth. How can mathematics education researchers use this time of crisis as an opportunity for transformation? What new possibilities for mathematics learning and teaching were revealed through the unprecedented changes of 2020? And, how can our existing research endeavors persevere through the current situation to reach new insights about mathematics teaching and learning?

We also recognize that not all struggle is productive. When institutions and systems fail to support students, teachers, and researchers from historically marginalized communities, they create injustices that cannot simply be overcome by individual perseverance. A focus on equity demands that we distinguish between productive struggle and struggle caused by racism, sexism, and other biases, while working to critique and dismantle unjust structures and systems.

We invite papers about every kind of struggle – in student learning, in teaching, in pre-service and in- service teacher education – and how it can both support and inhibit learning. The organizing committee acknowledges the unique challenges that this past year has brought to primary caregivers and BIPOC scholars at all levels, and particularly invites papers which recognize and reflect on the processes and responsibilities of education during challenging times.

We hope our theme helps to focus presentation proposals, but we encourage all proposals that further a deeper understanding of teaching and learning mathematics even if they do not directly address the theme. More information will soon be available at or contact us by email at

Further, we understand that attending the 2021 PME-NA Conference in person may present obstacles to some this year. Although we hope that as many researchers as possible will be able to join us in person in the beautiful, historic, and vibrant city of Philadelphia, we also recognize that many institutions (or personal situations) may prohibit travel in the 2021-2022 academic year. Therefore, we are planning a hybrid conference with both virtual and in-person options for attendance.

We hope you will consider submitting a proposal and joining us in Philadelphia. We would LOVE to see you there!

The Local Organizing Committee

Dana Olanoff
Widener University

Sandy Spitzer
Towson University

Kim Johnson
West Chester University



Types of Contributions

We invite proposals for Research Reports, Brief Research Reports, Posters, Working Groups, and Research Symposia. All proposals will be due on March 12, 2021. Please note that the due dates for posters is the same as for research reports, and that the organizing committee does not plan to adjust this deadline. Proposals can be submitted in English, Spanish or French. Final papers will need to be in English, and optionally in any of the two other languages as well. Please visit the conference website ( for more specific submission details and requirements, as well as proposal templates. Proposals should conform to the following page limits (including figures and tables, but excluding references) and dates:

Session & Document Type Page Limits Abstract Limit Proposal Due Date Final Paper Due Date
Research Report 8 pages 10 lines March 12, 2021 June 30, 2021
Brief Research Report 4 pages 10 lines March 12, 2021 June 30, 2021
Poster 1 page No Abstract March 12, 2021 June 30, 2021
Working Group 2 pages 15 lines March 12, 2021 June 30, 2021
Research Colloquia 2 pages 15 lines March 12, 2021 June 30, 2021


The major goals of PME-NA are:

  • To promote international contacts and the exchange of scientific information in the psychology of mathematics education.
  • To promote and stimulate interdisciplinary research in the aforesaid area, with the cooperation of psychologists, mathematicians and mathematics teachers.
  • To further a deeper and better understanding of the psychological aspects of teaching and learning mathematics and the implications thereof.
Host institutions

The conference is co-hosted by Widener University, Towson University, and West Chester University, with additional support provided by the Pennsylvania Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators and the New Jersey Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.



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