SALISBURY — Over the summer, eight area college students hosted weekly learning sessions to help fourth, fifth and sixth graders better understand mathematics skills from fractions and multiplication to decimals and statistics.
The lessons were part of a Salisbury University summer research site for undergraduates to study math education.
The three-year project is funded by a $260,606 National Science Foundation grant earned by Drs. Randall Groth of the Education Specialties Department and Jennifer Bergner of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.
Their PATHWAYS (Preparing Aspiring Teachers to Hypothesize Ways to Assist Young Students) initiative is the University’s second NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site since 2012. The first explored emerging computing in science and engineering.
“Our primary objective is to develop math teachers who approach their classrooms with the mindset of researchers and can make instructional decisions based on data,” Groth said. Bergner added: “By engaging them in research related to mathematics education now, as undergraduates, we also are providing them with foundations to participate in graduate programs in the future.”
The first participants included students from SU, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Wor-Wic Community College.
Working in pairs, they designed and tested mathematics instructional sessions for the 16 K-12 students. Each lesson was recorded and, afterward, they analyzed the instructional effectiveness and determined learning goals and teaching methods for the next week.
A cumulative report described the trajectory of the students’ learning under the instructional interventions that were designed, ultimately helping to test and refine current mathematics education research, Groth said.
He and Bergner served as faculty mentors, along with Drs. Jathan Austin of Mathematics and Computer Science and Claudia Burgess of the Teacher Education Department.