The goal of the project is to understand the current conditions, challenges, and resources that pertain to mathematics education in rural areas in the United States.
Exploring the Landscape of Rural Mathematics Education (Collaborative Research: Heck)
The goal of the project is to understand the current conditions, challenges, and resources that pertain to mathematics education in rural areas in the United States. The project team will conduct a national survey of rural middle school mathematics educators and administrators with follow-up interviews to understand the current trends in instructional practices and curriculum materials, the resources in rural communities that support mathematics education, and the challenges faced by rural mathematics educators. Following the survey and interviews 10 rural middle schools will be recruited to participate in a professional development (PD) model aimed at supporting rigorous forms of mathematics curriculum and instruction will be implemented. The project team will study the ways in which rural mathematics educators respond to the implementation of the PD model to understand the resources or constraints that facilitate or impede the uptake of rigorous mathematics instruction. The project team will then engage in dialogue with a range of partners in rural mathematics education contexts, including state and regional education policy makers, to generate a set of recommendations for enhancing the rigor of mathematics instruction in rural areas.
This is a four-phase research study with the goal of understanding the current conditions, challenges, and resources that pertain to middle school mathematics education in rural areas in the United States. The first phase will be a national survey of a representative sample of teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators who are responsible for mathematics education in rural areas. A sub-sample of the survey respondents will be recruited for follow-up interviews to develop deeper understandings of the insights that emerge from the surveys. Ten rural middle schools will be recruited to participate in professional development. Schools will be selected in part based on an expressed interest in enhancing their efforts to implement rigorous mathematics curriculum and instruction, which is defined in this project along three dimensions: eliciting and responding to student thinking; positioning students as sources of mathematical authority; and using complex, authentic, high-demand tasks. These dimensions are supported by empirical literature from the U.S. and from countries with strong records of mathematical achievement. This three-part synchronous online professional development model was developed from a prior research project and has already been effectively implemented in rural settings. The purpose of implementing the professional development model will be to better understand how the resources and constraints in rural settings impact the uptake of efforts to implement rigorous mathematics curriculum and instruction. The final phase of the project will convene groups of state and regional partners, including personnel from state departments of education and other groups of educators who support rural education, to engage in dialogue and ultimately produce a set of recommendations designed to enhance rural mathematics education. A mixed methods approach to data analysis will be employed. Survey data will be quantitatively analyzed and results will be nationally representative of rural areas. Interviews and observations will be qualitatively analyzed using a priori coding based on prior work.