- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1852846
- First Name Sandy
- Last Name Spitzer
- Discipline Math
Laila Richman, firstname.lastname@example.org; Diana Cheng, email@example.com; Kristin Frank, firstname.lastname@example.org; Kimberly Corum, email@example.com
Diana Cheng, Towson University, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Baltimore City Public School with which we worked, Afya Public Charter School, is a middle school serving approximately 350 students. Last year, approximately 12.5% of the students scored ‘proficient’ or higher on the Maryland state mathematics standardized exam. One of the mathematical practices assessed on this exam is Modeling (Common Core State Standard MP.4), expects students to apply the mathematics they know to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In our project, undergraduate pre-service students partnered with graduate students and faculty mentors to design, implement, and test mathematics modeling activities that align with the Common Core State Standards.
1) What strategies do middle school participants use to solve the problems in our originally designed Model-Eliciting Activities (MEAs), and to what extent do our MEAs promote the application of mathematical content? 2) To what extent do participants’ experiences solving MEAs align with researchers’ intent?
For students to develop deep and connected mathematical understandings, mathematicians and mathematics educators have recommended that students solve real-world problems in which applications of mathematics are useful (e.g., Pollack, 1969; Lesh & Doerr, 2003). According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000), ‘One of the most powerful uses of mathematics is the mathematical modeling of phenomena. Students at all levels should have opportunities to model a wide variety of phenomena mathematically in ways that are appropriate to their level,’ (p. 39). This is echoed in the Common Core State Standards, which identifies being able to model with mathematics as one of the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, 2010). In tandem, statewide standardized assessments (such as the PARCC assessment used in Maryland) incorporate open-response tasks in which students are asked to create models of real-life situations.
This project has positive outcomes for a number of groups. First, undergraduate students participating in the project will engage in an authentic research experience in mathematics education through designing a Model-Eliciting Activity and implementing it with public school students. This allowed the undergraduate researchers to build their Mathematics Knowledge for Teaching (see Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008), which is shown to be closely associated with teaching effectiveness (Hill, Rowan, & Ball, 2005), and gain experience working with middle school students. Their graduate student partners also built mathematical knowledge as well as gained mentorship experience.
Both graduate and undergraduate research partners disseminated their findings through public presentations at conferences. State-wide conferences at which presentations were conducted included the 2018 Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference and the 2019 Association of Maryland Mathematics Teacher Educators’ Early Career Teaching Conference. National level conferences included the 2019 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual meeting, the 2018 Mathematical Association of America’s MathFest conference, and the 2019 Joint Mathematics Meetings. Middle school students attending the workshops benefited from participating in the MEAs by learning new applications of mathematics and interacting with college students.