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More than Mathematics: Faculty Outreach Beyond the Classroom

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College of Education professors are active members of the NC State University community—teaching classes, researching the best uses of technology in education and sharing their talent and resources through professional development. This summer was no exception as the mathematics education faculty invited teachers, scholars, students and alumni to campus for researching and learning opportunities.

“Our faculty are leaders in the country who design and implement cutting edge uses of technology with mathematics, science education, technology, and engineering teaching and learning,” said Dr. Patricia Simmons, department chair and professor in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education. “Working with teachers in North Carolina and other states enables our outstanding faculty to bring current knowledge and understanding about exemplary teaching in STEM Education to our teachers, who in turn, implement these ‘best practices’ and current research on mathematics education with their middle, high school and university students.”

In May, Drs. Karen Hollebrands, Hollylynne Lee and Allison McCulloch, mathematics education, hosted a summer institute for mathematics education faculty representing different universities from across the nation and Canada. This project, that addresses mathematics content, pedagogy and technological skills in an integrated manner, is titled, Preparing to Teach Mathematics with Technology (PTMT).

The products of this project are three textbooks for use in mathematics teacher preparation programs, Preparing to Teach Mathematics with TechnologyAn Integrated Approach to Data Analysis and Probability, published in 2010; Preparing to Teach Mathematics with TechnologyAn Integrated Approach to Geometry, recently published in 2012; and the third, in development, will focus on Algebra.

An annual professional development institute, this summer’s group consisted of new participants establishing the fourth cohort of mathematics teacher educators learning to implement the practices and technology highlighted in the books during the workshop.

A few weeks later the Scaling Up STEM Learning project, aimed at increasing student success in required high school mathematics, held a professional development session. Scaling Up STEM Learning helps to enable teachers to reach students by developing a strong foundation in mathematics so that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers are options later on. This project targets four rural North Carolina school districts with large populations of minority and underserved students.

The North Carolina teachers of Scaling Up STEM attended a professional development session at the end of June. They engaged in technology-based activities that focused on mathematical modeling through the use of such tools as motion detectors, accelerometers, and temperature probes. Project leads include the College of Education’s Drs. Karen Hollebrands and Eric Wiebe; the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’, Dr. Sarah Stein; and the Office of Information Technology’s Dr. Henry Schaffer.

Another mathematics team doing outreach this summer is the Mathematics INstruction using Decision Science and Engineering Tool (MINDSET) project. MINDSET worked to design, implement and evaluate a new fourth year high school mathematics curriculum. The project was developed to provide an alternative to advanced mathematics classes, like calculus, for students who are now required by law to take four years of high school mathematics in North Carolina and Michigan.

This summer the MINDSET project team at North Carolina State University met in Asheville and Raleigh, and other parts of the team met in Charlotte and Michigan, to conduct professional development workshops around the new course, Advanced Mathematics using Technology and Engineering Models (AMTEM), that will debut this fall. The book, When will we ever use this: Making Decisions Using Advanced Mathematics, is made up of multi-step problem solving to help students make real life decisions using mathematics principles from operations research. 

The MINDSET team consists of faculty from NC State University, Wayne State University and the University of North Carolina- Charlotte. The NC State members are Drs. Karen Keene and Karen Norwood, College of Education and Dr. Robert Young, College of Engineering.

For more information on the projects, visit their websites that are linked to the project names above. For more information about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Department visit: ced.ncsu.edu/stem