I was a faculty member in Mathematics Education at the University of Georgia from 1969 to 2016. I served as Head of the Department of Mathematics Education from 1969 to 1993 and led the development of various programs within the department. In particular, the department has considerable experience with the mathematics, mathematics pedagogy, and instructional computing preparation of mathematics teachers, both preservice and inservice, at the secondary, middle school, and elementary levels. The department attracted some of the best faculty, students, and visiting scholars in the field of mathematics education to become a recognized center of excellence.
I received the B.S.Ed. degree from Kansas State Teachers College, Emporia, in 1958 with a major in history. I could not find a job teaching history in 1958 and settled for a position teaching mathematics and biology, areas for which I had less preparation than one would earn in a minor. I taught in the public schools in Marion, Kansas, and attended evening classes and summer school to develop the undergraduate and master's degree background in mathematics. Later I taught mathematics in the demonstration high school as a faculty member at Kansas State Teachers College.
My doctoral studies were at Stanford with E. G. Begle and I worked on the staff of the School Mathematics Study Group as Project Director of the Research and Analysis Section. The primary responsibility at SMSG was the analysis and reporting of the National Longitudinal Study of Mathematical Abilities (NLSMA). I also earned master's degrees in mathematics from Kansas State Teachers College (1960), Notre Dame (1964), and Stanford (1965).
I joined the faculty at the University of Georgia in l968 during the third year of the department's history. Len Pikaart was the department head and other faculty in the department included Les Steffe, Bill McKillip, Bob Willcutt, Joe Hooten, Larry Hatfield, and Mike Mahaffey. I have been a visiting faculty member at St. Michael's College, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Hawaii, Southern Illinois University, Shanghai Normal University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, National Pingtung University of Education, and the East Tennessee State University. During 1974-75 I was on leave to the National Science Foundation as a program manager.
I served as editor of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education from 1976 to 1982 and was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1978. I have held various appointments for NCTM, the School Science and Mathematics Association, and the American Educational Research Association. I have worked extensively with the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the California Assessment Program, and various other state assessment programs. I was also an author for the Scott, Foresman Company elementary mathematics series.
My research interests are in the teaching and learning of mathematics. I am particularly concerned with the role of mathematical visualizations as students and teachers engage in mathematical investigations, solve problems in mathematics, and communicate about mathematics. The availability of technology tools to enable and enhance mathematical visualization has been a stimulus to my recent research interests.
In 2001 I receivd a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and in 2008 the Gladys Thomason Award for Distinguised Service fom the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Guided by a group of former students in the Mathematics Education program, the James W. Wilson Endowed for Mathematis Education was established and funded in 2016. I am greatly appreciative of this honor and recognition by students, friends, and colleagues.