With funding from the National Science Foundation's Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program, this project will address the national need for high quality mathematics teaching in elementary schools. In particular, the project will represent a research and materials development effort aimed at helping prospective elementary teachers to develop responsive teaching skills and practices in the areas of numeracy and early-algebraic thinking. These responsive teaching practices, referred to as professional noticing (of children's mathematical thinking) are comprised of three interrelated components; namely, (i) observing and attending to the child's mathematical actions and words, (ii) interpreting these actions and words with respect to a particular developmental progression, and (iii) responding with an appropriate instructional or diagnostic decision. Researchers from Northern Kentucky University (lead institution), Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky will collaborate to develop online and classroom materials and conduct research to push the field of professional noticing forward to provide teachers of elementary mathematics with valuable tools to help improve teaching and student learning. The project will build on earlier work by the investigators regarding prospective teachers' development of professional noticing skills. The previous project focused exclusively on noticing with respect to individual children's numeracy strategies; whereas, this project will investigate prospective elementary teachers' development of professional noticing skills in group and whole-class contexts in a more sophisticated, but essential mathematical domain - early algebraic thinking. The project will also engage personnel from Appalachian State University, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University to use the materials developed and provide important feedback. Each university has committed to institutionalize the project activities as part of their teacher education programs. In connection with this, the project will directly impact over six-hundred (600) prospective (pre-service) teachers across the State of Kentucky as well as parts of North Carolina during the period of the grant funding. These teachers, in turn, will collectively have impact on thousands of elementary students throughout their teaching careers. Making the developed and well-researched materials available online will further enhance the overall impact of the project.

Broadly speaking, professional noticing is an ability to recognize and act on key indicators significant to one's profession. In connection with this, the Project Team will develop online and in-class modules for teaching professional noticing to pre-service elementary teachers (PSETS) and, in turn, will investigate research questions related to the extent to which the innovative learning experience for pre-service elementary teachers (PSETs) focused on the professional noticing of children's numeracy and early-algebraic thinking will enhance PSETs' teaching and observation skills. The research questions include: (1) To what extent can teacher educators facilitate the development of PSETs' capacity to professionally notice children's mathematical thinking in the context of early numeracy in individual settings? (2) To what extent can teacher educators facilitate the development of PSETs' capacity to professionally notice children's mathematical thinking in the context of algebraic thinking in whole class settings? (3) To what extent do PSETs' professional noticing skills in individual settings relate to their professional noticing skills in whole class settings? (4) To what extent do PSETs' professional noticing skills relate to PSETs' mathematical knowledge for teaching and attitudes towards mathematics? (5) What differences (if any) occur in PSETs' professional noticing skills, attitudes towards mathematics, and mathematical knowledge for teaching when professional noticing modules are administered via an online format when compared to a traditional face-to-face format? Researchers will use proprietary video-based professional noticing measures to determine changes in PSET skills in this area and will administer according to a pre-, mid-, and post-assessment design with a video-based professional noticing assessment. Mathematical knowledge for teaching and attitudes towards mathematics will be assessed on the same time schedule. Assessment instruments will be the LMT-TKAS and the Mathematics Experiences and Conceptions (MECS) instrument, and interviews also will be conducted with PSETs to understand their experiences with the modules and their professional noticing skills.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Karen Keene
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University of Kentucky
United States
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