Improving STEM education in Charleston County schools with a focus on math
The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence is working side by side with the Charleston County School District (CCSD) to improve the quality of STEM education in the Lowcountry, and now particularly with regard to mathematics. A grant-funded program will prepare high school mathematics teachers with a new focus on mathematics literacy ─ how students read and understand math ─ rather than just teaching calculations and formulas. Up to 30 educators will be selected to participate in the program, entitled “Promoting problem solving and sense making: engaging teachers in the mathematical process.” Applications are being accepted now through April 14.
“As teachers, we often focus on the specific content of mathematics – the calculations, and assume that by doing so students will gain knowledge about the wider discipline of mathematics as a sort of by-product,” said Jennifer Albert, Ph.D., The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence director. “However, studies underscore the importance of explicitly teaching the fundamentals of how mathematicians communicate in order to solve novel problems and present mathematical arguments. Our program will do just that.”
The proposal was submitted and secured by Albert, Robin Jocius, Ph.D., a Zucker Family School of Education faculty member, and Richard Robinson, Ph.D., Citadel professor of mathematics and computer science, with the assistance of Catherine DeMers, a K-12 mathematics specialist with CCSD who will be an integral part of the project. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education awarded The Citadel approximately $172,000 to fund the program through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act: Improving Teacher Quality Higher Education Grant Program.
The intensive professional development program will take place over the course of a year and a half, culminating with the teachers presenting their learnings at professional conferences or countywide in-service session. Throughout the course, The Citadel professors involved will gather information for ongoing research into the discipline of literacy in mathematics.
Components of the program
- Summer 2017: professional development July 31 – Aug. 8
- 2017-18 academic year: in-classroom support plus four Saturday workshops
- Summer 2018: final professional development seminar
“We are very excited to work hand-in-hand with the Charleston County School District to support high school math teachers in our community,” said Robinson.