University of Rochester

Raffaella Borasi Named to Frederica Warner Chair

May 19, 1999

Raffaella Borasi, a mathematics educator who has pioneered new methods of math instruction, has been named to the Frederica Warner Chair in Education at the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development of the University of Rochester.

The chair, which was established in 1988 with a gift from William F. and Margaret Warner Scandling, was named for the late Mrs. Scandling's aunt, Frederica Warner, who was a high school English teacher. Frederica Warner graduated from the University in 1909 and taught for 36 years in New York City public schools. The Scandlings created the chair to support the efforts of the University to strengthen education in public schools through collaboration and research.

Borasi is a widely published author and respected leader in the field of mathematics education and school mathematics reform. She joined the faculty of the Warner School in 1985 and studies the concept of teaching math through inquiry. This instructional approach stresses problem solving, students' ownership in the learning process, and the development of communities of learners trying to "make sense" of math problems and concepts. In her work, she has found that this method sparks students' curiosity and invites them to explore possibilities that lead to a fuller understanding of mathematics.

Her research has been supported by multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and the New York State Department of Education. Most recently, she has been working on a NSF-funded Local Systemic Change project to facilitate mathematics reform in middle schools in four Rochester area school districts: Brighton, Hilton, Honeoye Falls, and Spencerport.

"Raffaella Borasi has been recognized repeatedly as a leader in her field and by her peers," said Philip Wexler, dean of the Warner School. "We're pleased to acknowledge her within the Warner School and within the University."

Borasi is the author of the groundbreaking 1996 book, Reconceiving Mathematics Instruction: A Focus on Error, and Integrating Reading in Inquiry-Based Mathematics Classrooms: An Interdisciplinary Study, which will be published by Teachers College Press later this year. She is also the creator of a multimedia package, Introducing Math Teachers to Inquiry: Framework and Support Materials to Design Professional Development, to help train teachers who can promote school mathematics reform.

Born in Italy, Borasi graduated from the University of Torino in 1981. At an early age, Borasi said she developed a passion for mathematics and a talent for making math more appealing to others. She received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, and earned her doctorate from SUNY Buffalo in 1986.