GeT Support: An online professional learning community to support the geometry course for teachers

Patricio Herbst
Professor of Education and Mathematics
University of Michigan

Project name GeT Support: An online professional learning community to support the geometry course for teachers. Need: Our poster describes ongoing work creating and sustaining a learning community for instructors who teach the college geometry classes which are taken by prospective secondary mathematics teachers (GeT courses). Most mathematics departments offer a geometry course required for future secondary teachers, but few faculty members are involved in any one institution, to the point that local communities don’t exist for course-specific professional learning. GeT: A Pencil is an inter-institutional community of instructors that overcomes that pervasive lack of community by bringing GeT instructors together to work on problems of practice, which include documenting and improving GeT instruction. Guiding Research Questions: Can we detect changes in mathematical knowledge for teaching geometry among undergraduates who take geometry courses for teachers? How can instruction in geometry courses for teachers be characterized, from the perspective of instructors and students? Development questions: What can a community of instructors of college geometry courses do to increase capacity for teaching high school geometry? How can a community of instructors of college geometry help individual instructors increase capacity for teaching those courses? Outcomes: Our MKT-G instrument detects average increases of .25 standard deviations for students (N=435) during the period they take the course. Student surveys of instruction report (highlights)More interactive lecture than traditional lecture. More practices of helping students solve their own problems than telling students the answers to difficult questions More providing definitions and proofs of theorems than having students participate in creating definitions or developing proofs of theorems. More novel problems than traditional problems. Our instructor participants have collaborated in developing and documenting a consensuated list of Student Learning Outcomes, which we will share in the poster. Work on lesson study and writing together has helped develop instructors’ expertise. A biweekly seminar, biweekly working group meetings, working groups at conferences, and a trimestral newsletter serve as conduits for writing and professional development. Broader Impacts: Impacts for participants: Participants have been very eloquent about the personal benefits of the community, both in terms of their practice (doing things they had not done before) and personal advancement (achieving career milestones with the assistance of work done for the community).Impacts for students: Though these are hypothetical, we surmise that firmer agreements on curriculum and the drive to improve instruction can help increase the impact of the course on mathematical knowledge for teaching geometry.


Amanda Milewski, University of Michigan