Jaehoon Yim is a visiting scholar from Gyeongin National University of Education in South Korea, where he has been a professor of mathematics education since 2003. Yim is visiting the EWU Math Department in collaboration with professors Hyung Sook Lee and Jackie Coomes to research didactical analysis of school mathematics and pre-service teachers’ knowledge, beliefs and conceptions.
This is Yim’s second time visiting EWU for research. Seven years ago, he worked alongside faculty to research mathematics education, and this time he hopes to work more with students. He is staying in Cheney for the 2017-18 academic year with his wife and daughter.
Can you talk about the research you’re doing here?
I visited Eastern Washington University seven years ago during my previous sabbatical, so this is my second time here. That time I mainly observed a lot of classes in the Math Department. I worked directly with math professors and educators and talked to them about their teachings and how we could improve our service as educators, but this time my goal is a little different.
My focus is on three things. The first one is research. I’m doing several research work about how to develop teachers’ professional understanding and capabilities of school mathematics to help their students. I’m now in my 15th year teaching pre-service elementary teachers in my country, after five years of teaching secondary mathematics teachers.
Here at Eastern Washington University the Math Department has an elementary pre-service teacher program, middle level endorsement program and a secondary math teacher program. So here, I can experience all the levels of school mathematics, which is a very beneficial thing for me.
The second focus is interacting with students. Last time I mainly interacted with faculty, but this time I want to interact with Eastern’s students. I want to help Eastern’s pre-service teachers who have difficulties in understanding school mathematics. Actually, last week several students stopped by my office and asked me to help them understand some mathematics. I met with them four times last week. It’s mutually beneficial. I can improve on myself as a math educator, and they can prove they are understanding school mathematics.
My third focus is sharing my experience and ideas with American people. I presented some of my ideas in a mathematics conference. I talked about teaching for profound understanding, proportion and division. I didn’t expect I could get a big audience because I’m a foreigner, but our room had a full audience of about 70, and some of them were just standing because there wasn’t enough seating. They showed great interest and paid attention to me, so I’m very excited and very grateful to have been given an opportunity to share my idea with mathematics teachers.
What are the biggest challenges you face with this research?
There are no challenges, just my English. All the people in the Math Department showed me great favor. Another thing, the Global Office and Megan Abbey have been great with helping me and my family. She’s showed kindness and favor to my family, which is beyond expectation. Wonderful.
Is there anything you plan on doing with your family while you’re here?
My daughter attends Cheney High School, and she enjoys her life there. She runs cross country at the school, and she runs and runs with her friends. My wife is also enjoying it here. My family enjoys ice skating at Eastern. Everything is perfect. Except for one thing.
I like playing tennis, and I think I’m pretty good. Seven years ago, when I was at the university for the first time, I brought my tennis racket. But I didn’t play at all. This time, I brought, not one, but two rackets. After two months here, I found out I couldn’t play tennis at all.