Master’s Student Works to Change the Way Mathematics is Taught

Samantha during the workshop with pre-service teachers.

Samantha Porter, a master’s student in Mathematics Education, is making major strides towards changing the way that mathematics is taught in the Caribbean.

Prior to receiving the Fulbright Scholarship to study at NC State University, Porter served as a teacher and college instructor in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. It was there that she was able to fully grasp the way that mathematics education was being taught and first became motivated to improve instructional methods in the Caribbean and beyond.

To make those improvements, Porter completed an innovative thesis that evaluates and explores teachers’ engagement during a mathematics education workshop.

For her thesis, she worked with pre-service teachers at the St. Vincent Community College Division of Teacher Education who were engaged in a four-day introductory workshop that provided an overview of GeoGebra and its possible integration in the teaching/learning of secondary school mathematics. The purpose of this research was to evaluate engagement, attitude, and the quality of tasks written by the pre-service teachers using GeoGebra.

Porter hopes that her thesis will serve as a catalyst, motivating and positively influencing teachers’ perspectives about the use of technology in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

According to Dr. Karen Allen Keene, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of STEM Education and academic advisor to Porter, this thesis is unique because it brought together several different analysis techniques in studying a professional development project.

When asked how Porter will positively change the way mathematics is taught, Keene said, “By beginning with future teachers, Samantha will provide the country with teachers who know how technology can make a difference as students learn mathematics. Eventually, the whole school population in the country will be influenced by teachers who Samantha has trained, moving the country into the twenty-first century as far as using computers in general and special computer technology to learn mathematics in specific.”

Once her studies are completed at NC State, it is Porter’s intention, upon returning to her country, to continue sharing the knowledge and skills gained in the form of workshops and professional development for mathematics teachers in both primary and secondary schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.