PATHWAYS - Preparing Aspiring Teachers to Hypothesize Ways to Assist Young Students

PATHWAYS has two primary objectives: (1) To develop mathematics teachers who approach classrooms with a researcher's mindset, making instructional decisions based on empirical data; (2) To engage aspiring mathematics teachers in systematic formal mathematics education research, thereby providing foundations for participation in mathematics education graduate programs.

Full Description: 

PATHWAYS has two primary objectives: (1) To develop mathematics teachers who approach classrooms with a researcher's mindset, making instructional decisions based on empirical data; (2) To engage aspiring mathematics teachers in systematic formal mathematics education research, thereby providing foundations for participation in mathematics education graduate programs. This REU site involves undergraduates in the design and testing of instructional sessions for K-12 students where each summer, eight undergraduates from Salisbury University (SU), University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and Wor-Wic Community College work in pairs under the guidance of SU faculty mentors. Each pair meets with a group of four K-12 students once per week to give summer mathematics instructional sessions. SU faculty mentors help undergraduates analyze the instructional effectiveness of each session. Each week's analysis sets the mathematical learning goals and instructional methods for the next week. Undergraduates submit weekly reports describing K-12 students' learning and a cumulative report describing the trajectory of K-12 students' learning under the instructional interventions they designed. The cumulative reports help test, extend, and refine current mathematics education research on learning trajectories.

Various qualitative data sources used during this project's duration include transcripts of participants' conversations about assigned readings and their scores on online training modules content assessments, video recordings of diagnostic interviews with K-12 students as well as all teaching sessions, and undergraduates' weekly and final summary reports on the progress of the K-12 students. The Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) is used at the end of the intensive summer experience to quantitatively analyze the impact of PATHWAYS on undergraduates' development as researchers. Opinion surveys are administered to PATHWAYS undergraduates, the K-12 students they instruct, and the parents of K-12 students to ascertain perceived strengths and weaknesses of the program. The long-term impact of the project is assessed through follow-up surveys inquiring about the graduation status and career goals of those who have completed the PATHWAYS experience.

PATHWAYS reaches multiple communities. The structured manner in which undergraduates work with K-12 students provides experience with formal mathematics education research to encourage future graduate study. The project provides the field of mathematics education student-level data to both support and challenge existing published learning progressions. PATHWAYS serves the local community by providing summer mathematics instruction for children in grades K-12. Project findings aim to provide a more robust understanding of how teachers may help develop children's mathematical thinking under the Common Core State Standards and their dissemination by undergraduates and their SU mentors via conferences and peer-reviewed publications reaches the community of scholars at large.