Iowa State to lead $3.5 million NSF grant award for TEACH MATH project

AMES, Iowa - The National Science Foundation has awarded a five-year, $3.5 million grant to the TEACH MATH project, a six-university project designed to improve preK-8 mathematics teaching and student learning in the nation's increasingly diverse public schools. Iowa State University is leading a research collaboration of six participating schools, which also includes the University of Arizona, University of Delaware, Queens College-The City University of New York, University of Washington-Tacoma, and Washington State University-Tri-Cities.

The universities were chosen because they represent a diverse range of teaching contexts according to Corey Drake, an ISU associate professor in curriculum and instruction and the grant's principal investigator.

"We're using the grant funding to improve the design and instruction of our math methods classes for prospective teachers, and then we'll follow those teachers into the first two years of teaching to see how they've applied what they've learned," said Drake, who is also ISU's director of undergraduate education in curriculum and instruction.

"The funding pays for the technology and coordination across the six universities and for tracking these students as they go into teaching," she continued. "And we'll be able to provide them stipends to continue with us and participate in the research once they graduate from Iowa State."

According to the grant proposal, the TEACH MATH project will accomplish the following goals at the six universities:

  • The repeated refinement of instructional modules for preK-8 mathematics methods courses that explicitly develop teacher competencies related to mathematics, children's mathematical thinking and community/cultural funds of knowledge
  • The development of a model of structured support and mentoring for new teachers in their initial years of full-time teaching
  • The creation of online networks to facilitate ongoing teacher and teacher educator collaboration

"We're really focused on how to better prepare prospective teachers to teach diverse groups of students, particularly knowing that in Iowa and across the country, classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse," Drake said. "We're trying to develop teaching methods that embrace that diversity in order to improve preK-8 mathematics teaching -- treating diversity not as a deficit, but a strength in the classroom."

Drake says TEACH MATH project leaders used a small grant from NSF to gather preliminary data from the methods classes of the six institutions over the previous two years.

The new grant will also be used to facilitate conference presentations, distribution of instructional modules via websites and publications, the development of an online teacher and teacher educator learning community for sharing resources and experiences related to the modules, and a national dissemination conference.