Overview of the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation
and the Research Group
[Return to MCTP Research Page]

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.

The purpose of this report is to orient the reader to the Maryland Collaborative for Teacher Preparation and to give an overview of the on-going research activities being conducted within the project. Interested readers who desire additional information are encouraged to conduct the MCTP Co-Directors of Research: J. Randy McGinnis, jm250@umail.umd.edu, (301) 405-6234 and Tad Watanabe, Tad@midget.towson.edu, (410) 830-3585.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 a number of University of Maryland institutions. Public school districts involved include Baltimore County and Prince George's County. The project management team consists of Jim Fey, Project Director, Co-Principal DirectorsGenevieve 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 teacher candidates who started in the program in the fall of 1994.

The MCTP is based on the following framework:

* 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.

What is the history and leadership of the Research Group?

In late July 1994, Fey, MCTP Project Director, asked J. Randy McGinnis (Science Educator), University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP), andTad 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, Karen King andSteve Kramer, doctoral mathematics education students at UMCP, have served as graduate research assistants to the Research Group. Gilli Shama, a visiting Israeli mathematics educator, also joined the Research Group in the fall, 1995.

Who constitutes 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. The individuals who took on this responsibility are Dr. Renny Azzi, Frostburg State University, Dr. Delores Harvey, 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.

What is the 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) are being longitudinally documented and interpreted from two foci: the faculty and the teacher candidate perspectives.

What are the guiding research questions addressed in the MCTP research?

The following questions serve as the a priori research questions (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?

What data are being collected for MCTP research?

Both numerical and qualitative data are being collected to address the MCTP research questions. Numerical data derive from the administration of two Likkert-type surveys developed by the MCTP Research Group: a college student version and a faculty version of "Attitudes and Beliefs About The Nature Of And The Teaching Of Mathematics And Science". Participating faculty and students in MCTP classes (both MCTP teacher candidates and non-MCTP students) contribute to this data base. Data are analyzed using the software program SPSS.

Qualitative data derive from semi-structured ongoing interviews with participants in MCTP classes, MCTP class observations, participant journals, and MCTP course materials. Standard qualitative analysis techniques (analytic induction, constant comparison, and discourse analysis) assist in the interpretation and presentation of case studies emerging from this rich data set. The software program NUD.IST. facilitates the data analysis.