College Awarded $1.19 Million Grant To Reconceptualize the Preparation of Mathematics Teachers
October 17, 2012
The Stonehill College Education Department, in collaboration with Mathematics Department faculty, was recently awarded a $1.19 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program; the largest grant in the College's history.
Titled "Communities of Practice: Teacher Preparation and Beyond," the project addresses the issues of attracting, preparing, and retaining teachers in the critical shortage field of mathematics education. However, as stated by Education Professor Eunmi Yang "This model was created with an eye toward expanding to the other STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields."
Preparing Math Teachers
"Communities of Practice: Teacher Preparation and Beyond" will provide a cohort style of support to students beginning during their teacher preparation and extending through their first years in the classroom.
Candidates will experience a wide variety of 'best practices' in mathematics teaching and learning including: K-12 school-based programs, mathematics internships within local school districts and research alongside Stonehill faculty. This variety will ensure that our future mathematics teachers interact with K-12 students, teaching practitioners, and math scholars to develop a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics and teaching mathematics.
Funds will also be used to introduce a Noyce Speaker Series where master teachers come to campus to discuss educational issues and ideas. Membership in "communities of practice" will be available to all Stonehill mathematics majors, as well as all students interested in education.
Key to the eventual success of the model will be the relationships teacher candidates develop across their four years at Stonehill with peers, school based mentors, as well as education and mathematics faculty. An additional strength of the "communities of practice" model is its collaborative nature.
As stated by Mathematics Professor Eugene Quinn, "It is important for educators to learn to collaborate and the communities of practice concept will produce teachers who are trained to do this."
By providing these multiple access points for support, teacher candidates will enter the field armed with solid teaching skills and the ability to sustain themselves as new teachers.
"What we are most excited about is the fact that more than 80% of the funds we received will go directly to the teacher candidates in the form of K-12 internships as well as scholarship monies" states Education Professor Karen L. Anderson, principal investigator.
It Takes A Village and More
Professor Anderson (left) went on to stress that the success of the project will rely on several areas within the Stonehill community coming together as a team.
"They say it takes a village and in our case, in order to produce an exemplary teacher it takes more than a persistent village. It takes the Education Department, the Cornerstone Program, the Mathematics Department, and co-curriculars just to name a few," explains Professor Anderson.
"It also takes capitalizing on the long standing partnerships the Education Department has with many of our local public school systems," adds Kathleen McNamara, Education Department chair.
In a joint comment, the Noyce Project Team states that they "believe students in grades K-12, who encounter well-trained, Noyce 'community of practice' mathematics teachers, will be well prepared for not only college level mathematics, but also for fields such as science, technology, and engineering that rely on a solid mathematical foundation."
The members of the team are: Professors Karen L. Anderson, Kathleen McNamara and Eunmi Yang of the Education Department, along with Eugene Quinn and Timothy Woodcock from the Mathematics Department.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.