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Eileen Murray

Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Office:
Center for Computing and Information Science 425B
Email:
murrayei@montclair.edu
Phone:
973-655-6819
Degrees:
BA, Lafayette College
MS, University of Arizona
MS, Georgia Institute of Technology
PhD, University of Georgia
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Profile

I have taught high school and undergraduate mathematics and secondary mathematics methods, been trained as a mathematics teacher educator and engaged in research in several areas directly related to the preparation and professional development of teachers.

At the core of my research interests is the desire to understand how to best prepare and support secondary mathematics teachers along their professional continuum. This is important because research has shown that teachers who participate in ongoing professional development are better situated to improve student learning and performance. But as a field we need to more fully develop and understand the aspects of professional development and undergraduate education that help teachers make generative changes in their practice.

For more information about our undergraduate and graduate mathematics education programs, including our Teaching Middle Grades Mathematics programs, please see the Links section below.

Specialization

Research has shown that teachers who participate in ongoing professional development are better situated to improve student learning and performance (Sowder, 2007; Loucks-Horsley et al., 2003). I believe that as a field we need to more fully develop and understand the aspects of professional development and undergraduate education that help teachers make generative changes in their practice, and I am uniquely positioned to tackle these issues. I have taught middle school, high school and undergraduate mathematics as well as mathematics methods. I have been trained as a mathematics teacher educator and have engaged in research in several areas directly related to the preparation and professional development of teachers.

My work focuses on the overall goal of preparing and supporting secondary mathematics teachers. To better understand how to do this, I mainly research the content preparation of teachers through specific content courses that aim to make connections between undergraduate and secondary content. This research has taken many forms, and all of my professional endeavors can be traced back to this overarching theme.

Resume/CV

Office Hours

Fall

Monday
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Wednesday
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Research Projects

Building A Teacher Knowledge Base For The Implementation Of High-quality Instructional Resources Through The Collaborative Investigation Of Video Cases

This is a Late-Stage Design and Development collaborative effort submitted to the teaching strand of the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK12) Program. This project will address the pressing national need to generate shared, practice-based knowledge about how to implement freely available, high-quality instructional resources (mathematics formative assessment lessons) that have been shown to produce significant gains in student learning outcomes. It will expand a professional development model (Analyzing Instruction in Mathematics using the Teaching for Robust Understanding Framework (AIM-TRU)) that supports teacher learning about effective lesson implementation. The backbone of AIM-TRU is a growing, open repository of video cases available to teachers and teacher educators across the U.S. who use or are interested in using the lessons. The repository will include tools such as a facilitator's guide to support teachers and teacher educators to engage in the model and collaboratively investigate the video cases. Consequently, the work will have the potential to engage teachers and teacher educators in improving mathematics education at scale. Because the video cases will capture implementation and ideas for improving instruction in schools serving populations who are underrepresented in mathematics, AIM-TRU will serve to improve mathematics education equitably.

Research questions focus on what teachers learn about high-quality mathematics instruction and instructional materials within a community of practice, and how that learning influences their teaching. In AIM-TRU, teachers engage in the collaborative investigation of video cases utilizing a shared repertoire that includes questioning protocols adapted from the Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) framework. This framework articulates five dimensions of classroom instruction that are necessary and sufficient to support students in becoming powerful mathematical thinkers. This affords teachers opportunities to use the TRU dimensions as lenses to diagnose common problems of practice that arise in implementation, and propose innovations and theories for improving instruction that can be tested in real classrooms and documented in new video cases. Analytic tools will be used from frame analysis to produce empirical evidence of what teachers are learning about instruction and instructional materials along the five dimensions of TRU. These data will be mapped to a random sample of video recordings of participating teachers' instruction, scored using the TRU Math Rubric, in order to link learning outcomes from the professional development to changes in instruction. Addressing these research questions will provide a deeper understanding and empirical evidence of learning within teacher collectives, the pressing national need to develop mechanisms to produce collective professional knowledge for teaching, and further efforts to understand the types of knowledge required for effective teaching.

The DRK-12 Program seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Adjunct Mathematics Instructor Resources and Support: Improving Undergraduate Precalculus Teaching and Learning Experience

Our project will build a model of Precalculus course coordination and adjunct support to
improve the teaching and learning of Precalculus, leading to student academic success and
retention in STEM majors. To date, ample research has been conducted on the reasons students drop out of STEM fields after having taken introductory mathematics courses such as Precalculus. This “leaky pipeline” phenomenon has been connected to students’ persistence, which is impacted by their experience in their first year mathematics courses. Additionally, the quality of the teaching and learning of mathematics influences student retention. Therefore, improved instruction can motivate students to take more mathematics and possibly pursue a STEM degree. This claim has been supported by research that stresses the effects of proper training and professional development on teachers’ instructional quality. However, since much of this work has been done with full-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants as instructors, there is a need to focus on developing instructional skills for part-time adjunct instructors. One important reason to focus on the adjunct instructor population is the trend in higher education away from full-time, tenure faculty towards part-time instructors, especially for introductory courses.

While some work has been done to understand the benefits of supports for part-time
instructors at the undergraduate level, this work has focused mostly on graduate teaching
assistants rather than adjunct instructors. The proposed project will extend this work to adjunct instructors and will contribute to the less robust research base regarding the adjunct instructor population. By building a model of adjunct instructor resources and support, we will contribute to deeper understanding of how such efforts impact (1) adjunct instructor knowledge and instructional practices, (2) adjunct instructors’ job satisfaction, and (3) student academic success and retention in STEM majors. This understanding may help other departments and institutions with similar instructor populations to better support their adjunct faculty, thus improving student achievement and increased retention in STEM majors.