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New Research Grant Supports Math Teachers' Early Field Experience

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Student teaching is an essential component of teacher preparation that typically occurs in students' last year of a teacher preparation program. Yet research has suggested that providing students with additional field experiences that offer earlier opportunities to practice their craft would better prepare prospective teachers.

To study the issue, the National Science Foundation recently selected Michelle Cirillo, an associate professor of Mathematical Sciences, and her collaborators, Kristen Bieda and Fran Arbaugh to receive the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant: Investigating Early Field Experiences for Prospective Mathematics Teachers through the University Teaching Experience Model.

The $1.97M project is a collaborative research grant shared by the three principal investigators at Michigan State University (PI Bieda), Penn State (PI Arbaugh), and the University of Delaware (PI Cirillo). Together, the team will test the implementation of a field experience model aimed toward accelerating prospective teachers' capacity to design and implement equitable learning environments that enhance understanding and achievement in mathematics from the start of their teaching careers. The project will research the implementation of the University Teaching Experience (UTE) model where prospective secondary teachers assume teaching responsibilities in an undergraduate mathematics course earlier in their preparation program. Mentoring and coaching will be provided by mathematics teacher educators in real time. Enhancing early field experiences for novice mathematics teachers can better prepare them for their initial years of practice. Since high-needs schools largely employ early career teachers, improving student outcomes in high-need schools depends upon making sure that novices are well-prepared for ambitious teaching as soon as they enter the profession. 

 

The PIs at all three sites will work to achieve the following broad goals: (1) to assess the portability of the UTE model to a wide range of university-based teacher preparation institutions and (2) to gather both quantitative and qualitative data to investigate the development of prospective teachers' knowledge about teaching and their teaching practice as a result of participating in the UTE.

 

Cirillo will work with associate instructor, Tammy Rossi, in the department's Mathematical Sciences Learning Laboratory to pilot and study the UTE model at UD.

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