Capacity Building Grant

Noyce Math Logo

Project Summary

Noyce @ Montclair: Preparing the Effective Elementary Mathematics Teacher (PE2MT) Scholarship Program provides exemplary preparation to 30 students for effective elementary mathematics teaching in New Jersey’s high-need K-12 schools. These students obtain an undergraduate degree in mathematics along with a K-6 elementary teaching certificate by engaging in an innovative program featuring experiences beyond coursework that were developed as part of our Noyce Capacity Building Grant. Each student receives a $13,000 scholarship and a $1,000 stipend each year for two years to participate in the PE2MT Program. 

Project Goals

Goal 1:
Establish a degree program featuring coursework that prepares preservice elementary teachers for effective mathematics teaching.
B.S. in Mathematics with K-6 Teaching Certification
Goal 2:
Establish inquiry-oriented academic support and research experiences that prepare preservice elementary teachers for effective mathematics teaching.
Inquiry-based Instructional Supplement
Research Experience
Goal 3:
Establish early and ongoing field experiences that prepare and support elementary teachers for effective mathematics teaching.
Early and Ongoing
Field Experience
Goal 4:
Establish the infrastructure and institutional collaborations necessary for program recruitment and sustainability.
Noyce Math infrastructure diagram, Montclair crest linked to colored circles

Goal 1: Establish a Degree Program Featuring Coursework That Prepare Preservice Elementary Teachers for Effective Mathematics Teaching. We developed a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics degree with a concentration in Elementary Teaching (MAEL) that is the centerpiece of our Capacity Building project. The MAEL degree is now active and has been enrolling new students since Fall 2015. This degree establishes the first STEM pathway at MSU for students who want to become elementary school teachers. It consists of the same core mathematics courses taken by all mathematics majors, while also incorporating the same courses taken by all students seeking K-6 certification.

Goal 2: Establish Inquiry-Oriented Academic Support and Research Experiences That Prepare Preservice Elementary Teachers for Effective Mathematics Teaching. We developed a workshop model of supplemental instruction that we call Inquiry-Based Instructional Supplement (IBIS), which merges aspects of Complex Instruction (Cohen, 1994) and Peer-Led Team Learning (Hockings et al., 2008). Then we developed inquiry-oriented, groupworthy problem sets for Calculus I and Calculus II that were designed according to criteria that we determined through research aimed at identifying the pedagogical implications of a constructivist theory of learning (Greenstein, Buell, Wilstein, 2015; Buell, Greenstein, Wilstein, 2016).

We also created a new course, MATH 491: Research in Mathematics Education, as an elective for students in the MAEL program. The undergraduate research experience was piloted in the fall of 2014 with a student who meaningfully used her own classroom observations to inform her research, and in the fall of 2015 with a student who analyzed algebra curriculum and then, as a case study of how curriculum can be informed by student interest, revised that curriculum so that it better incorporated connections to content that were particularly meaningful to her. We developed a graphic for Scholars that portrays this process, as well as a handbook of journal articles and resources to guide their independent research.

Goal 3: Establish Early and Ongoing Field Experiences That Prepare and Support Elementary Teachers for Effective Mathematics Teaching. We identified every elementary teacher preparation course at Montclair that includes a field component and developed a protocol for students to share with their teachers so that their field experiences can be designed to specifically align with the philosophy of this program. In particular, these field experiences should support pre-service teachers as they assimilate a broader notion of the “field” to include the community that houses the school in which they will observe or teach. To further promote Scholars’ understanding of these communities, we have created community knowledge-building efforts, including templates for written journals focused on methods for integrating cultural and community knowledge into the classroom and protocols for interviewing an elementary student’s parent or family member. In addition, Scholars will use an app called GeoTagger (Fails, et al., 2014, 2015) with students in high-need elementary schools to identify points of personal meaningfulness within their community. Using the app, elementary students will “pin” these points on a map and describe them. Then, we use the app to establish community walks for Scholars using these pins as guideposts.

Goal 4: Establish the Infrastructure and Institutional Collaborations Necessary for Program Recruitment and Sustainability. We have hosted two one-day outreach conferences at MSU with mathematics faculty, education faculty, and transfer counselors from seven two-year colleges in NJ in order to enhance institutional collaborations. We introduced the degree program and Noyce scholarship opportunity and initiated a communication process with these partners that will supplement existing articulation agreements so that students at these two-year colleges can be better prepared to transfer into our new MAEL degree program and also qualify to be Noyce Scholars. To promote and facilitate the recruitment of Noyce Scholars from these seven institutions, we have crafted Transfer Plans for each institution that specifically correlate the courses from the MAEL plan with their institution’s corresponding, transferrable courses. These have been shared with transfer counselors and academic advisors and also posted on our Noyce website.

Broader Impacts

This innovative teacher education program serves as a model to other colleges and universities interested in the extraordinary preparation of STEM elementary teachers. The IBIS workshop and research course can be used to engage undergraduate mathematics students across the country in inquiry-oriented and authentic learning and research experiences. Further, given that community-based experiences in teacher preparation can be formative for teachers’ beliefs about students and teaching in high-need settings, the design of our field experiences can serve as a model for other programs that seek to provide pre-service teachers with meaningful forms of community-based experience.