Person: Fennema, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Fennema was an American mathematician who worked on mathematical education. She received many honours such as the first Annual Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research on Women and Education from the American Educational Research Association, and the Dora Helen Skypek Award from the Association for Women and Mathematics Education.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- She only became Elizabeth Fennema after her marriage.
- Both Elizabeth Hammer and Owen Fennema graduated from Winfield High School in 1946.
- Elizabeth then had a difficult decision to make.
- Already at this time Elizabeth and Owen Fennema had fallen in love and were intending to marry.
- After graduating from Winfield High School, Owen was going to study dairy manufacturing at Kansas State College in Manhattan, Kansas and Elizabeth didn't want to be far from him in New York.
- Southwestern College was a Methodist college and Elizabeth attended it for two years.
- As well as playing in the orchestra, Elizabeth was the orchestra's librarian.
- In the autumn of that year Elizabeth Fennema entered Kansas State College where she studied psychology for the next two years.
- In the 1949 Kansas State College Yearbook, Elizabeth Fennema is recorded as playing the bass in the College Orchestra.
- In the 1950 Royal Purple Yearbook of the College, Owen is recorded in the School of Agriculture and Elizabeth in the School of Arts and Sciences.
- Both graduated in 1950, Elizabeth in Psychology and Owen in Dairy Manufacturing; both were Phi Kappa Phi.
- After graduating, both Elizabeth and Owen moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where Owen spent a year in which he obtained an M.S. degree in Dairy Industry.
- Elizabeth would have liked to find a graduate position in psychology but these were difficult to come by so she enrolled for a Master's Degree in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Elizabeth completed her Master's Degree in Education and graduated in 1952.
- Owen and Elizabeth moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, later in 1953 where Owen worked for Pillsbury, one of the world's largest producers of grain and other foods, in the research department.
- At this point Elizabeth made her first move into designing an educational course when she opened a private kindergarten in the basement of their home in Minneapolis.
- In 1957, the Fennemas moved to back to Madison where Owen studied for a Ph.D. in food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Two years later an initiative by Kathryn Frederick Clarenbach (1920-1994) changed Elizabeth's life.
- As a result of this effort, Fennema was asked to be a supervisor of student teachers.
- As a supervisor of student teachers Fennema worked for Vere DeVault, whom she describes as kind and perceptive.
- At first this was not a tenure-track position but, soon after her appointment, the university created part-time tenure-track positions and Fennema was given one of these.
- Encouraged by Joan Roberts, a lecturer at Wisconsin-Madison in the Educational Studies programme, Fennema was persuaded to write about her discipline.
- Fennema's first article about gender, a review of extant work on sex difference in mathematics, was published in the Journal of Research in Mathematics Education in 1974.
- They published Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales: Instruments designed to measure attitudes towards the learning of mathematics by females and males (1976), Sex-related differences in mathematics achievement, spatial visualization, and affective factors (1977), The study of mathematics among High School girls and boys: Related factors (1977) and Sex-related differences in mathematics achievement and related factors: A further study (1978).
- Among the honours that Fennema received we mention the first Annual Award for Outstanding Contribution to Research on Women and Education from the American Educational Research Association in 1985, and the Dora Helen Skypek Award from the Association for Women and Mathematics Education in 1986.
- Owen Fennema retired in 1996, the same year as Elizabeth.
- The Fennemas lived half of the year in Middleton, Wisconsin, and the other half in their home in Green Valley, Arizona.
- Following Owen's death there was a move to set up the Owen R Fennema Professorship in Food Chemistry.
Born 8 April 1928, Winfield, Kansas, USA. Died 20 December 2021, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Origin Usa, Women
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive