- Year 2018
- NSF Noyce Award # 1240046
- First Name Karen
- Last Name Anderson
- Discipline Math
Kathleen McNamara, Stonehill College, KMcNamara@Stonehill.edu
Eugene Quinn, Ph.D., Stonehill College, EQuinn1@Stonehill.edu
Timothy Woodcock, Ph.D., Stonehill College, TWoodcock@Stonehill.edu
Karen L. Anderson, Ph.D.
Although many teachers claim to teach mathematics through ‘problem-solving,’ the ‘problems’ they utilize in their classrooms rarely reflect the views articulated by the NCTM (1980, 1989, 2000, 2006) or that are embodied within the standards for mathematical practice (DESE, 2011). One potential reason could be that many of the PK-12 classrooms where these teachers learned mathematics presented mathematics as a collection of rules to be mastered, arithmetic computations, mysterious algebraic equations, and geometric proofs (Van de Walle, 2007, p. 12). Without direct experiences with problem-solving – as a student, and as a licensure candidate – making the leap from theory to practice and utilizing problem-solving as an instructional practice may never happen.
NUMB3RS Projects were designed to supplement the pre-practicum/practicum sequence in place at the College. Throughout semester long projects, licensure candidates were challenged to work in teams (alongside faculty mentors from the Noyce Project Team) to design and implement instructional materials of their own creation. The overarching goal was to utilize problem-solving to move the thinking of both our licensure candidates and the PK-12 students they work with, beyond rote memorization to the development of a deeper conceptual understanding of the big ideas in mathematics.
Unlike traditional pre-practicum where licensure candidates typically follow the lead of their supervising practitioners in terms of curriculum and classroom management, involvement in NUMB3RS Projects provided licensure candidates with the opportunity to work in teams (led by members of the Noyce Project Team) to design and then implement mathematical problems within our partner schools and districts. Across six semesters (spring 2014 – fall 2016) this SL-E was offered 25 times with a variety of community partners including public / parochial schools in Avon, Brockton, Easton, and Stoughton Massachusetts, at the Fall River YMCA, and with School on Wheels of Massachusetts.
Results indicate that both the licensure candidates and the community partners we work with benefit. Students in the schools and districts hosting NUMB3RS Projects receive extended learning time beyond the traditional school day through access to a free, afterschool program with mathematical problem solving at its heart. Licensure candidates receive opportunities, early in their teacher preparation program, to design, implement and reflect upon their own instructional practices.
In addition to a 30-minute session at the Noyce Summit in 2016, and a 60 minutes session at the Noyce Summit in 2017, preliminary results from this project were shared at the Massachusetts Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE) Fall Conference in October 2015 in Worcester Massachusetts; the Association of Mathematics Teachers Educators in February 2018 in Houston, Texas and the Lilly Conferences on College and University Teaching and Learning in Bethesda Maryland in June 2018.
Two manuscripts are currently under review utilizing findings from this project: Re-imagining Service Learning: Deepening the Impact of this High-Impact Practice and Are ALL Field Placements Created Equal?