Orit Zaslavsky is a Professor and the Director of the Mathematics Education Program at NYU (New York University) since 2009. She received her PhD in Mathematics Education from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) in 1987. Following a two-year post-doctorate fellowship at LRDC (Learning Research and Development Center), the University of Pittsburgh, she returned as a full-time faculty member to the Technion, from where she retired after 22 years.
Zaslavsky’s recent work focuses on the interplay between mathematical examples, definitions, and proof. She explores how students think with and through examples when they are engaged in mathematical activities (e.g., proving), and how mathematics teachers use and think about examples when they plan their teaching and when they actually teach. One of the outcomes of a 3-year ISF (Israel Science Foundation) research grant that she had received was a conceptual framework that accounts for teachers' choice and use of examples as part of their craft knowledge. In this terrain she co-edited a special issue of ZDM (Zentralblatt fuer Didaktik der Mathematik) entitled ‘Examples in Mathematical Thinking and Learning from an Educational Perspective’. She received an NSF grant to develop and evaluate an undergraduate problem-based course on mathematical proof and proving (MPP) that has become an integral part of the secondary mathematics education program at NYU. This course builds on her earlier work on evoking uncertainty and doubt as a vehicle for investigating and promoting secondary students' and teachers' mathematical understanding. She is currently working on a joint NSF-funded research project with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin on the roles of examples in learning to prove. The study involves middle and high school students, undergraduate students, and mathematicians. In recognition of her work, she was invited to deliver a keynote address at the 2014 annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME), entitled "Thinking With and Through Examples".
Zaslavsky's earlier research focused on mathematics teacher education; she was a pioneer in studying the development of mathematics teacher-educators, from both theoretical and practical perspectives, and has investigated and conceptualized the nature of productive mathematics-related tasks and instructional examples. Her contributions in this area include a co-edited Springer book entitled 'Constructing knowledge for teaching secondary mathematics: Tasks to enhance prospective and practicing teacher learning', and a triple special-issue of JMTE (Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education) entitled 'The Role and Nature of Mathematics-Related Tasks for Teacher Education'.
Orit Zaslavsky directed major professional development projects for secondary mathematics teachers in Israel, including a large-scale project that aimed at fostering excellence in mathematics at the junior high-school level. She received a large grant from the Israel Ministry of Education for curriculum design and the development of a series of mathematics textbooks for junior high-school students (grades 7-9) in Hebrew, as well as a book entitled “Learning and Teaching Calculus” for secondary mathematics teachers on mathematical and pedagogical aspects of Calculus.
- Zaslavsky, O., & Zodik, I. (2014). Example-generation as indicator and catalyst of mathematical and pedagogical understandings. In Li, Y., Silver, E. A., & Li, S. (Eds.), Transforming mathematics instruction: Multiple approaches and practices (pp. 525-546). Advances in Mathematics Education. New York: Springer. (PDF)
- Zaslavsky, O. (2014). Thinking with and through examples. In Liljedahl, P., Nicol, C., Oesterle, S., & Allan, D. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Joint Meeting of PME 38 and PME-NA 36, v.1, pp. 21-34. Vancouver, Canada: PME. (PDF)
- Leron, U. & Zaslavsky, O. (2013). Generic Proving: Reflections on scope and method. For the Learning of Mathematics, 33(3), 24-30. (PDF)
- Zaslavsky, O., Nickerson, S., Styliandes, A., Kidron, I., & Winicki, G. (2012). The need for proof and proving: Mathematical and pedagogical perspectives. In G. Hanna & M. de Villiers (Eds), Proof and proving in mathematics education (pp. 215-229). New York: Springer. (PDF)
- Buchbinder, O. & Zaslavsky, O. (2011). Is this a coincidence? The role of examples in creating a need for proof. ZDM - Zentralblatt fuer Didaktik der Mathematik, 43(2), 269-281. (PDF)
- Zaslavsky, O. (2010). The explanatory power of examples in mathematics: Challenges for teaching. In M. K. Stein, & Kucan, L. (Eds.), Instructional explanations in the disciplines (pp. 107-128). New York: Springer.(PDF)