U of A Professor to Study Middle School Mathematics Teaching
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas is part of a four-state initiative funded by the National Science Foundation to study how middle-grade mathematics teachers plan and enact mathematics lessons from a variety of resources, including textbooks and supplemental materials.
Shannon Dingman, associate professor of mathematics education in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, will serve as a principal investigator on the collaborative grant and lead the efforts at the U of A. Dingman's research focuses on the role of curriculum and standards in mathematics education.
The three-year grant, titled Investigating Middle Grades Mathematics Teachers' Curricular Reasoning, is being shared by the U of A, Brigham Young University, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Grand Valley State University. The U of A will receive $159,661 of the total grant of $1,090,283.
“Textbooks have traditionally driven what is learned in the mathematics classroom,” Dingman said. “However, over the past couple of decades, and in particular since the release of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, we have seen more and more teachers move away from strictly following textbooks and towards using more supplemental materials that either they or someone in their district have created, or they have found online.
"Since teachers are a key piece in the implementation and success of the Common Core, we plan to study how teachers use the variety of curriculum materials at their disposal to implement the standards, how and why they make these decisions about these materials, and what strengths and weaknesses they see in their textbook and in other materials," he said.
The study will take researchers into eighth grade mathematics classrooms in the four states represented, as researchers look to study how teachers make curricular decisions and what factors influence these decisions. The grant is funded through the EHR Core Research: Fundamental Research in STEM Education division of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources division of NSF.
Shannon Dingman, associate professor
Department of Mathematical Sciences
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