PLEASE NOTE THAT NO MEETINGS OF SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS WILL BE SCHEDULED FOR FUTURE CONFERENCES.
Special Interest Groups: An overview
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were a component of MERGA conference programs for many years. Some met only during one conference, and some continued to meet at conferences for several years. Some SIGs continued to correspond or work together between annual conferences. In the past the VP Conferences reviewed proposals for SIGs. Acceptable ones were about mathematics, mathematics education, teacher education or development, research methods, or closely related matters. A SIG coordinator could request a short session (40 minutes) or a long session (about 90 minutes).
The Special Interest Groups included group discussions with sharing of thoughts and experiences (e.g. on writing for journals or on organising for engaging lectures), focused work on a resource (such as analysis of a transcript applying a particular learning theory), or a lesson using a resource (e.g. on use of EndNote software or on managing large thesis documents).
The summaries below show the SIGS which were part of MERGA conferences in the past:
Special Interest Groups
Algebra
Convenor: Robyn Pierce
The Algebra SIG was an open discussion, where all participants shared their ideas about the teaching and learning of algebra, current research projects or new directions that should be explored. The role of technology in teaching and learning algebra, the place of byhand skills and memorised routines, teaching to promote students' understanding of symbols, algebraic expectation and ability to link different representations of functions are just some challenging issues which could benefit from input from researchers, teachers and users of algebra.

Affect in Mathematics Education
Convenor: Peter Grootenboer
In recent years there has been a growing interest in affective aspects of mathematics education including beliefs, values, attitudes, emotions, dispositions and feelings. One or two people briefly and informally shared their current research projects and some of their findings. The group then spent the rest of its time discussing the implications of the recent findings for mathematics educators.

Calculators and Computers
Convenor: Pat Forster
The SIG provided an opportunity to let others know about any new uses of computer and calculator technologies for teaching and learning, and about research findings in the domain. Short accounts from participants were welcomed. Brief reports on major projects that are currently being undertaken in Australia and NZ were used to start the session.

Cognition and Instruction
Convenor: Mohan Chinnappan
The SIG on Cognition and Instruction was aimed at raising issues about the nature and content of what students and teachers construct during mathematical learning and teaching. Participants were encouraged use this SIG a forum to air their views on a range of related issues such as:

interaction between students' prior mathematical knowledge and what is
taught by the teacher

the growth of mathematics domain knowledge and its effect on use of
different problemsolving strategies

how does IT facilitate the accessing and use of previouslylearnt

mathematical knowledge

implications for assessement strategies
Issues covered primary, secondary and tertiary level mathematics.

Early Algebraic Reasoning in the Primary Years.
Convenor: Elizabeth Warren
The focus of this group was on the integration of arithmetic reasoning and algebraic reasoning in the primary school. This is not the introduction of formal algebra in the primary school but a focus on development of algebraic reasoning that assists young children develop a more sophisticated sense of number and hence more in depth understanding of numeracy concepts. Recent research has turned to young children and embedding algebraic reasoning in arithmetic reasoning. This is a shift from the traditional approach of algebraic reasoning that occurs after the development of arithmetic reasoning, to algebraic reasoning that occurs in conjunction with arithmetic reasoning.
Draft early algebra reasoning initiatives in Australia and New Zealand (e.g., the patterns and Algebra Strand from the Draft Queensland syllabus) were distributed to all participants. This formed a focus for discussing what research needs to be done and how we could work collaboratively to forward this agenda.

Early Number / Early Arithmetic Learning
Convenors: Joanne Mulligan
The Early Arithmetic Learning SIG meetings have been well attended at recent MERGA conferences and this area has been the focus of extensive research in Australia and New Zealand and elsewhere. As well, the area is one where school systems are placing increased emphasis and developing special initiatives. Examples of topics likely to be discussed are: the use of learning frameworks and similar constructs in assessment and teaching  what constitutes a framework and how can frameworks be developed; children's spontaneous strategies and mental strategies – how can sophisticated strategies be developed; the place of formal algorithms in the primary mathematics curriculum; the generation of accessible models of enquirybased teaching; professional development programs and curriculum review.

Language and Mathematics
Convenor: Phil Clarkson
The aim of this group was to develop discussion of general interest concerning the interplay of mathematics learning and language learning. The session will be devoted to discussion of ongoing and proposed projects. It was also an opportunity for colleagues to network and sift through possibilities and ideas for collaboration.

Learning Theories
Convenor: Sharon Gunn
The "Learning theories" SIG focused on enactivist and evolutionary theories of learning. Participants were invited to come prepared to explore their understandings of these learning theories and discuss how such theories may (or may not) relate to their own practice.

Online Learning in Mathematics Education
Convenor: Merilyn Taylor
This SIG was for those people interested in online learning. Issues for discussion are likely to include:

Course development, design, and implementation

Assessment

The influence of learning theory for online work

Any issues and subsequent actions?

Investigating Problem Solving
Convenor: Beth Southwell
The beginning of the nineteen eighties, following the release of the NCTM Agenda for Action for School Mathematics in the 1980s and the Cockcroft Report in England, saw a flurry of research and literature on problem solving. Ten years later, the research had turned to other topics and tended to use problem solving as a part of the research methodology only. After a further ten years, with many exceptions fortunately, after the first burst of enthusiasm, the teaching of problem solving seemed to revert to previous routine practices. The introduction of related ideas such as problem posing and investigations reawakened some interest in problem solving research. The result is, however, that now we have a plethora of terms that may or may not purport to mean the same or similar ideas. In the interest of common understandings and the development of shared outcomes time was spent on looking at current terminology, methodologies and related affective issues. The concentration, however, will be on perceived gaps in research and possible future action.

Sociocultural and Social Justice Aspects of Mathematics Education
Contact person: Colleen Vale
Topic for discussion: Indigenous people and mathematics.
How are nonindigenous and indigenous mathematics teacher educators and researchers working with indigenous people and communities on mathematics education? What can we learn from each other? How has ethnomathematics informed work in this field? How can we do much better in promoting reconciliation and social justice in mathematics education?
