BSME Directed Research on Gender Issues

I visited the Budapest Semester in Math Education program in October, 2017, and I’ve been eager to share my notes.

I really like the program, and think that it can be an impactful experience for future math teachers. Especially for those with a very strong math background. For example, junior staff in the HCSSiM program who’d like to explore teaching, would benefit very much.

The program is still small, but primed to expand quickly, once it becomes better known.

My first stop in BSME was to Fruzsina Kollányi’s seminar style directed research workshop on gender issues in math education. This workshop is new to BSME, so let’s call it a pilot class.

The BSME students were researching the gender achievement gap in Hungarian high schools (they call these “gimnázium”), and Fruzsina had arranged for them to have access to testing data from several specialized schools from around the country. The focus of the investigation would be on Hungary’s highest performing students.

I was able to point them towards similar research from the US:

The Gender Gap in Secondary School Mathematics at High Achievement Levels: Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions
by Glenn Ellison and Ashley Swanson

The BSME students spent most of the class time designing a survey that they planned to sent out to math teachers and math students. The discussion focused on the logistics and design of the survey. I was glad that they were taking on the details head-on, and that everyone was able to contribute ideas to improve the survey process.

What made Fruzsina’s course real for me was that the students planned to present their findings at a Hungarian Math Education conference later in the semester. They were preparing to submit an abstract, and would soon be working under a deadline to complete their research study and to prepare their presentation.

Some more information on the instructor: like most BSME instructors, Fruzsina Kollányi is deeply involved in math education in several ways. She’s a high school math teacher at the Budapest Contemporary Dance Academy, an instructor at Skool (, something akin to Girls Who Code), and educates underserved Roma kids with BAGázs (

UPDATE: Fruzsi shared a link to her students’ presentation:

A Prezi! Here’s another great Hungarian invention, an interactive and intuitive graphical way to organize a presentation.

Also, she plans to investigate assessment and gamification of learning in future seminars.

By the way, my favorite math websites that make use of gamification are,, and I’ve also become a big fan of Duolingo, which is a language learning site. Do you have a favorite gamification way to learn math?

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