This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students.
This working conference will help university professors who teach elementary mathematics methods courses learn to use Complex Instruction, a research-proven pedagogy for building mathematical content knowledge and supporting the learning of diverse students. In Complex Instruction, educators design tasks that require multiple mathematical abilities to solve. For example, solving a particular task might require computational skills as well as the ability to visualize a 3-dimensional object and represent that object on paper. Through this mathematical complexity, the tasks demand that students engage deeply with mathematics and draw on each others' mathematical strengths. In addition, in Complex Instruction teachers use strategies that minimize status differences in the classroom that impact participation, ensuring that all students - regardless of their popularity, first-language, race, or income level - participate equitably. During the conference, 28 university instructors from across the country will design tasks to be used in mathematics methods courses for prospective elementary teachers. Mathematics educators from University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Michigan, and Michigan State University will work together to design and host the conference. The conference is expected to produce a cohort of mathematics educators knowledgeable about Complex Instruction, and who can then support colleagues at their home institutions in learning to use the pedagogy as well as promoting the use of Complex Instruction in mathematics classrooms in U.S. elementary schools.
After learning the essential elements of Complex Instruction, conference participants will design Complex Instruction curriculum modules to implement at their home institutions. Evaluation of the conference will include surveys and phone interviews with conference participants to assess their knowledge of and use of Complex Instruction. In addition, some participants will be selected for more extensive follow-up, including the collection of videos of Complex Instruction lessons in their courses and surveys of their students. Data will be analyzed to identify major themes related to the knowledge of the participants and their students, the supports and obstacles present in various contexts in relation to adopting a new pedagogy, and the impact of Complex Instruction on the methods courses.
All of the tasks and the activities designed during the conference will be available not only to the conference participants but also to anyone interested in Complex Instruction through the website, www.ci.org. In addition, by developing experts in Complex Instruction at more than a dozen universities across the country, the conference will play an important role in disseminating this relatively new, but effective, pedagogy. Evidence about the effectiveness of Complex Instruction suggests that large-scale incorporation of this practice into mathematics methods classrooms will increase the mathematics understandings of prospective elementary teachers and ultimately their students, particularly those in schools with significant numbers of marginalized students.
Formerly Award # 1316235