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Oklahoma State University

OSU Researcher Secures $470,000 NSF Grant to Improve Mathematics Teacher Training

Mon, October 12, 2015

Michael Oehrtman, associate professor of mathematics at Oklahoma State University, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in excess of $470,000 to help improve secondary mathematics teacher training.

The study will examine how mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) is used by teachers and the factors that influence their interactions with students. Data will be collected from expert high school teachers as they plan, teach, and reflect on lessons. The aim is to contribute to a better means of developing and assessing secondary math teachers’ MKT.

“I am really excited to be able to do the work because this is something that has a chance to impact teachers’ practice in a meaningful way,” Oehrtman said.

Oehrtman points out that while previous research in the field focused on categorizing the different types of MKT, this project targets what needs to be done with students in the classroom.

“We wanted to reframe that research from a more pragmatic perspective: What do teachers actually use?” Oehrtman said.

By assessing what mathematical knowledge teachers need and how they effectively put it into practice, it will improve how secondary mathematics teachers are trained and evaluated.  Conceivably these methods could extend to other areas, such as science education.

An ambitious project requires ambitious collaboration and Oehrtman’s $470,000 chunk is part of a greater $1.17 million project which includes three professors from the University of Northern Colorado.  The grant, titled Initiating a Foundational Research Model for Secondary Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (INFORMS MKT) is funded for three years by the NSF’s STEM Workforce Development program.