THE MARYLAND COLLABORATIVE FOR TEACHER PREPARATION YEAR-ONE REPORT:
COLLABORATING WITH MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE COLLEGE PROFESSORS TO CONSTRUCT
SPECIALIZED UPPER ELEMENTARY/MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER PREPARATION PROGRAMS
[Return to MCTP Research Page]
J. Randy McGinnis, Anna Graeber,
Amy Roth-McDuffie, Mary Ann Huntley, & Karen King
University of Maryland at College Park
Tad Watanabe, Towson State College
Gerry Rossi, Salisbury State University,
Genevieve Knight, Coppin State College,
Joan Langdon, Bowie State University
The preparation of this material was supported in part by a grant from the
National Science Foundation (Cooperative Agreement No. DUE 9255745)
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association For Researchers
In Science Teaching, San Francisco, California, April 22-25, 1995.
The purpose of this year-one study of a five-year longitudinal study was
to investigate the preparation of specialized upper elementary/middle school
mathematics and science teachers participating in a NSF funded project in
Maryland. Participants included first-year prospective education students
enrolled in specialized mathematics and science content courses and their
content professors at six higher education institutions in Maryland. This
study reports in three sections: (Section One) An overview of the Maryland
Collaborative for Teacher Preparation and the Research Group, (Section Two)
A quantitative analysis of the prospective education students' fall 1994
beliefs and perceptions concerning mathematics and science content and its
potential for integration, and (Section Three) A qualitative analysis of
the prospective education students' fall 1994 perceptions of their specialized
college content classes as exemplifying constructivist, technological, and
interdisciplinary instruction appropriate for diverse groups of upper elementary/middle
Section One: Overview of the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation
and The Research Group
The Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation (MCTP) is a National
Science Foundation funded statewide undergraduate program for students who
plan to become specialist mathematics and science upper elementary or middle
level teachers. The goal of the MCTP is to promote the development of teachers
who are confident teaching mathematics and science, and who can provide
an exciting and challenging learning environment for students of diverse
Components of the MCTP
The MCTP consists of the following:
* Specially designed courses in science and mathematics, taught by instructors
committed to a hands-on, minds-on interdisciplinary approach.
* Internship experiences with research opportunities in business, industrial
and scientific settings, and with teaching activities in science centers,
zoos, and other institutions.
* Field experiences and student teaching situations with mentors devoted
to the interdisciplinary approach to mathematics and science.
* Modern technologies as standard tools for planning and assessment, classroom
and laboratory work, problem-solving and research
* Placement assistance and sustained support during the induction year in
the teaching profession
* Financial support for qualified students.
History of the MCTP
The National Science Foundation selected Maryland in 1993 as one
of the first three states awarded Collaborative Teacher Preparation Grants
(spread out over a five-year period) to develop and implement an interdisciplinary
program for intending elementary and middle school teachers to become science/mathematics
specialists. Higher education institutions involved in this grant include
University of Maryland institutions, Morgan State, Baltimore City Community
College, and Towson State. Public school districts involved include Baltimore
County and Prince George's County. The project management team consists
of Dr. Jim Fey, Project Director, co-principal directors Drs. Genevieve
Knight, Tom O'Haver, and John Layman, and Executive Director Susan Boyer.
Various committees working on the MCTP include the Content Teaching Committee,
the Pedagogical Committee, and the Research Group. These committees are
charged with developing and researching new college-level content and methods
courses for recruited teaching candidates who started in the program in
the fall of 1994.
History and Leadership of the MCTP Research Group
In July 1994, Jim Fey, MCTP Project Director, asked J. Randy McGinnis (Science
Educator), University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP), and Tad Watanabe
(Mathematics Educator), Towson State University (TSU), to share the leadership
of a Research Component of the MCTP. Anna Graeber, University of Maryland
at College Park, and Co-Director of the MCTP Methods Group, agreed to act
as a mentor to the Research Group. Amy Roth-McDuffie, Mary Ann Huntley,
and Karen King, doctoral mathematics students at UMCP, contribute to the
Research Group as graduate research assistants.
Members of the Research Group
The leadership of the Research Group identified and recruited Institutional
Research Representatives (IRR) who would coordinate research efforts at
the participating institutions offering MCTP courses fall of 1994. The individuals
who took on this responsibility were Dr. Genevieve Knight, Coppin State
College, Dr. Joan Langdon, Bowie State University, and Dr. Gerry Rossi,
Salisbury State University. Dr. Randy McGinnis and Dr. Tad Watanabe also
took on this responsibility for their institutions, respectively.
Purpose of MCTP research
In essence, the primary purpose of research in the MCTP is directed
at knowledge growth in undergraduate mathematics and science teacher education.
The unique elements of the MCTP (particularly the instruction of mathematical
and scientific concepts and reasoning methods in undergraduate content and
methods courses that model the practice of active, interdisciplinary teaching)
will be longitudinally documented and interpreted from two foci: the faculty
and the teacher candidate perspectives.
The guiding research questions addressed in the MCTP research
The following questions serve as the a priori research questions
presented to the National Science Foundation in the MCTP grant proposal
(a posteriori questions will emerge throughout the research period):
1. What is the nature of the faculty and teacher candidates' beliefs and
attitudes concerning the nature of mathematics and science, the interdisciplinary
teaching and learning of mathematics and science to diverse groups (both
on the higher education and upper elementary and middle level), and the
use of technology in teaching and learning mathematics and science?
2. Do the faculty and teacher candidates perceive the instruction in the
MCTP as responsive to prior knowledge, addressing conceptual change, establishing
connections among disciplines, incorporating technology, promoting reflection
on changes in thinking, stressing logic and fundamental principles as opposed
to memorization of unconnected facts, and modeling the kind of teaching/learning
they would like to see on the upper elementary, middle level?
Answers to those questions will address the following global research questions
driving teacher education research:
1. How do teacher candidates construct the various facets of their knowledge
2. What nature of teacher knowledge is requisite for effective teaching
in a variety of contexts?
3. What specific analogies, metaphors, pitfalls, examples, demonstrations,
and anecdotes should be taught content/method professors so that teacher
candidates have some knowledge to associate with specific content topics?
Data collected for MCTP research
Both quantitative and qualitative data are being collected to address
the MCTP research questions (a summary of data collected in fall 1994 and
analyzed is presented in Section Two: Quantitative, and Section Three: Qualitative,
of this report).
Quantitative data derive from the administration of a 49 item survey instrument
developed for the MCTP ("Attitudes and Beliefs About The Nature Of
And The Teaching Of Mathematics And Science") (See appendix A for instrument
and identified subscales). Students in MCTP classes (both MCTP teacher candidates
and non-MCTP students) contribute to this data base. Appendix B contains
a list of MCTP classes offered fall 1994. Standard statistical analysis
(descriptive and inferential) is being performed on this data. Qualitative
data derive from semi-structured ongoing interviews with participants in
MCTP classes, MCTP class observations, participant journals, participant
contributions to the MCPT LISTSERV, and MCTP course materials. Standard
qualitative analysis techniques (analytic induction and constant comparison)
assist in the interpretation and presentation of ongoing case studies emerging
from this rich data set.
A sample of data collected:
Data collection began in September 1994. A small sample of data is
shared to indicate the diversity and richness of MCTP data and the potential
over time in this NSF funded project to document changes in participants'
beliefs regarding mathematics and science teaching/learning.
(i) In response to an interview question asking about highlighting connections
between mathematics and science in their MCTP content classes, two MCTP
[My students] have to spend time describing in words the physical motions
to complement what's visible in the graph and what is then associated with
the mathematical description of the very same thing. So it's a very rich
array of physical behaviors represented by the transformation into the graph...which
is REAL STUFF!
[I] have planned to do a good bit of that connection. Of course, that's
from the point of view, the natural point of view, that I would take as
a scientist as math as a tool to be used as opposed to be developed.
(ii)In response to an interview question asking to what extent reasoning,
logic, and understanding are assessed on their MCTP course exams, two MCTP
One of the things I have tried to stress is that when they answer questions,
the answer is less significant than the rationale behind the answer that
they choose to use.
Well, almost no memorization. I've basically said that this is not a course
that's going to involve memory....I want them to be able to explain what
their understanding of certain concepts are. Of course, having said that,
I know that there's a certain basic kind of background knowledge that you
still, you know, need to know...
(iii)And finally, in response to an interview question asking in what ways
their MCTP undergraduate instruction models the type of teaching/learning
they believe should be done in grades 4-9, two MCTP professors remarked:
[They would model after me by]: allowing students to observe experiments;
asking them to describe what they observed in their own words, and to transform
those observations into the kind of relationships that science has so skillfully
Well, I'm trying to, so far. I would say not well enough. I am gradually
trying to change in that direction, but I would still say, for one thing,
one thing I haven't yet successfully done. You know, I still haven't put
their desks in a circle, that sort of thing.
II. Teacher Candidates
(i) In response to an interview question asking first semester college students
what they expect of a good mathematics teacher, two MCTP teacher candidates
I expect the math teacher, obviously, to know what he or she is teaching,
but I expect creative ways of, you know, bringing the problems or lessons
out, and definitely enthusiasm. I've had some teachers that were just, I
mean, they could have been asleep....
Someone who gets you interested in what you're doing, who doesn't just give
you problems and tell you to answer them...someone who maybe applies it...showing
students that you can use this.
(ii) In response to an interview question asking first semester college
students what they expect of a good science teacher, two MCTP teacher candidates
I guess, like, giving information so that the students understand the basics
before they go on....
In science, oh my goodness, that...that's a lot harder because science is
dependent on what kind, I think....There is some vocabulary that everyone
needs to know...that need to be memorized. But other than that, I just think
it's more or a sort of experimental kind of thing.
(iii) In response to an interview question asking first semester college
students what kind of student can do well in both mathematics and science,
two MCTP teacher candidates remarked:
I don't know...You know, if you understand the concepts, you can do the
problems. And, like, in science it's a little like, you need to memorize
more of the facts with math; you have to memorize more....But, like, if
you understand where everything is coming from, or you can put it together,
you can do both.
Someone who is shown that it can be interesting early on....I don't think
you're ever gonna do as good as someone who got interested in it when they
were younger and thought it was interesting.
MCTP Research Contacts
Individuals who wish to discuss or conduct teacher education research in
the MCTP are encouraged to contact Dr. Randy McGinnis, (310) 405-6234, or
Dr. Tad Watanabe, (410) 830-3585.
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