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UT Arlington math department wins $2.85 million NSF grant; project places graduate students in Arlington public schools to improve math teaching

News Release — 23 April 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Sue Stevens, Senior Media Relations Officer, 817-272-3317, sstevens@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - The University of Texas at Arlington math department has received a grant of $2.85 million from the National Science Foundation, one of only four Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education to be awarded nationwide. The grant will fund a collaborative project with the Arlington school district that will place graduate fellows in the classroom over the next five years at Sam Houston High School and three of its feeder schools - Workman, Hutcheson and Carter junior high schools.

Arlington schools Superintendent Jerry McCullough said he expects the innovative project to change the way the campuses teach and learn math.

"We are thrilled to be able to provide a strategic, focused and hands-on approach to improve math scores in our schools. Our teachers will not only be working with very talented mathematicians, but our students will receive one-on-one assistance from a team of well-trained educators," McCullough said.

The UT Arlington project, called "Mathematically Aligned Vertical Strands (MAVS) Connecting Mathematics Research, Pedagogy and Outreach for GK-12 Graduate Fellows and Teachers," aims to create a seamless transition in mathematics that spans the school curriculum and moves students toward research-level mathematics. At the heart of the MAVS project are teams of graduate students, public school teachers and mathematicians. Each year, eight fellows will be teamed with eight teachers at Sam Houston and its feeder schools.
 
Dr. Minerva Cordero, a UT Arlington associate math professor and principal investigator for the grant, said the MAVS project will develop innovative program components such as: 

  • research and teaching seminars;
  • mentoring triads, consisting of a graduate fellow, his/her research adviser and a MAVS faculty mentor;
  • teaching quads, consisting of two MAVS fellows with a mentor junior high teacher and a mentor high school teacher;
  • and a model for extending articulation in the mathematics curriculum to research-level mathematics that will then be disseminated at local, statewide and national levels.

Cordero said two of the potential fellows identified for next year are conducting research in algebra, so they will be paired with two public school teachers in algebra or pre-algebra courses.
The graduate students' research goes beyond the algebra concepts taught at the junior high and high schools, but this project will highlight the connections of advanced work to the algebra studied in public schools. Fellows will discuss their research with students so that students can see how the subject advances and applications of the mathematics they are learning, Cordero said.

"The graduate students will gain leadership and communications skills as they work with a diverse group of students and teachers," Cordero said.
 
Co-Principal Investigators are Drs. James Epperson, Theresa Jorgensen, Tuncay Aktosun and Jianping Zhu from the Department of Mathematics. They will collaborate with Cordero in the project.

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