In order to give future math teachers in UD's Secondary Mathematics Education program more experience with learning to teach prior to student teaching, Associate Professor, Dr. Michelle Cirillo began piloting an innovative model of early field experience in 2018 with funding from an IUSE National Science Foundation grant. Specifically, each cohort of preservice teachers in their junior year "adopts" an undergraduate on-campus section of precalculus where they practice facilitating small-group discussions and have opportunities to lead some whole-class activities. When COVID-19 disrupted the Spring 2020 semester, Dr. Cirillo, post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Raymond LaRochelle, and Associate Instructor, Tammy Rossi, were determined to find a way to continue this early field experience.
At the same time, Dr. Cirillo saw the COVID-19 disruption as an opportunity to learn more about two innovative teaching models that are being continuously improved in the Department of Mathematical Sciences - the University Teaching Model (described above) and the active-learning model of instruction employed by instructors like Rossi in the Mathematical Sciences Learning Laboratory (MSLL). The team leveraged the COVID-19 disruption to the Spring 2020 semester to investigate which features of these models, enacted in tandem, became salient to two populations of undergraduate students (i.e., preservice teachers and precalculus students) after their courses unexpectedly shifted online in the middle of the semester. Dr. Dawn Berk, Associate Professor and Director of MSLL, collaborated with Cirillo and LaRochelle on this study which has resulted in a set of manuscripts about the online shift, highlighting valuable features of the two innovative models of instruction, as well as some key challenges to communicating math online. Other collaborators include Dr. Kristen Bieda at Michigan State and Dr. Fran Arbaugh at Penn State, who are both PIs on the NSF grant. You can read more about the study and the online shift of the early field experience in this UDaily Article.
(c) 2020 Michelle Cirillo