The Mathematical Education of Teachers as an Application of College Mathematics

META Math will contribute to the NSF-IUSE program goals of “increasing the number and diversity of STEM students, preparing students well to participate in science for tomorrow, and improving students’ STEM learning outcomes” by creating, piloting, and field-testing materials for use in undergraduate mathematics courses taken by pre-service teachers as vital examples of college mathematics applications. These applications will benefit all undergraduates in these courses, not just those preparing to be teachers. As such, META Math naturally responds to the IUSE goal to encourage “projects that develop faculty expertise and prepare K-12 teachers.”

The goal of the META Math project is to increase faculty capacity to guide undergraduate pre-service teachers in (i) making explicit connections between undergraduate mathematics and the school mathematics they will teach, and (ii) developing deep, sophisticated understanding of mathematics taught in grades 7-12.

The specific objectives of the META Math project are to

● Develop quality instructional modules that make explicit connections between college mathematics and school mathematics;

● Pilot test these materials and pilot a year-long faculty development program to train faculty on the use of these modules; and

● Research student learning that results from the use of these modules and evaluate the effectiveness of the faculty development program that prepares faculty to use these modules.

Project Overview

META Math will draw on the expertise of mathematicians and mathematics education researchers to address the content-knowledge needs of undergraduate pre-service teachers. The project team will develop and pilot test materials for use in undergraduate mathematics courses in which future teachers are enrolled. We will train a cohort of pilot testers through a faculty development workshop and will improve this workshop through formative evaluation and refinement. We intend to produce cutting-edge, field-tested instructional modules in anticipation of wide-scale integration into core mathematics courses, test the modules for effectiveness in promoting student understanding of the connections between 7-12 mathematics and undergraduate mathematics, investigate effective practices for using these modules, and provide insight into how module usage affects a faculty member’s own understanding of school mathematics content from an advanced perspective. The project will enhance student understanding of the vertical connections from school mathematics through advanced undergraduate mathematics among all mathematics undergraduates. All undergraduates, not just future teachers, will benefit from the deep mathematical understanding fostered by instructors using META Math modules.

META Math will add to the research knowledge base by assessing student understanding of school mathematics from an advanced perspective. It will also characterize ways in which faculty use these modules and ways in which their use affects changes in faculty understanding of the concepts. The evaluation will identify sustainable practices for faculty professional development activities focused on generating and using such modules.

META Math will begin with an initial round of module creation, then proceed with pilot testing of the modules and pilot testing of a faculty development workshop during which a selected group of faculty learn to use these modules in existing courses and other settings.