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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 school students.

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 backgrounds.

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 bases?

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. Faculty

(i) In response to an interview question asking about highlighting connections between mathematics and science in their MCTP content classes, two MCTP professors remarked:


[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 professors remarked:


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 observed.


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 remarked:


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 remarked:


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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