PRIMED: Math Faculty Professional Learning, Cultural Competence, and Teaching Future K-8 Teachers

Billy Jackson
Teaching Faculty III
University of Wisconsin Madison

Need: There is a documented need in the teacher education literature for those who teach future teachers. The PRIMED project addresses this need by creating, offering, and investigating the success of a short-course for college mathematics instructors who are new to teaching mathematics to future K-8 teachers. Completed online by instructors who are concurrently teaching future teachers, instructor-participants work in pairs to explore and experiment with activity-based approaches to teaching. Guiding Questions: The overarching goal of the work is to contribute tools for humanizing mathematics instruction in colleges. In particular, the project developed a short-course for faculty who teach future K-8 teachers. The questions driving the project are (1) What is instructor experience of the short course? (2) What is the nature of the impact of the short-course on instructor and student development of mathematical knowledge for teaching and intercultural competence?Outcomes: Ultimately the project will provide a free online short-course for college and university instructors. The short-course is completed by a professional learning team of at least two people. Team members all teach mathematics courses for prospective elementary school teachers. Key findings in the development of the short-course include students of participating faculty demonstrated greater knowledge for teaching mathematics than is common in such courses. Though preliminary, one of the most intriguing findings is that instructors’ perceptions of (and orientations towards) those who they perceive as different from themselves appears to be modified by PRIMED short-course participation and, in turn, appears to correlate with student learning outcomes. This suggests the course is succeeding in addressing the overarching goal of the work to humanize mathematics teaching. That is, the aim is to shift the focus from an industrial model of teaching as production of a particular kind of widget (i.e., a student who can rapidly pull a piece of stored knowledge from a mental database) to teaching as that which facilitates learning and reasoning about mathematics for a student. The goal is not large n statistical generalizability; rather the goal has always been to have sufficient data to provide a credible and transferable show of promise.Broader Impacts: Prospective elementary teachers have been traditionally underserved by current university mathematics course formats. A central goal of the project is to help mathematics faculty offer classroom experiences that address necessary and appropriate mathematical knowledge needed for teaching elementary school. The direct societal impacts of the project are that (1) faculty will increase skills for teaching PSETs and (2) PSETs will enter the workforce better prepared in mathematics and its teaching. Modules provide faculty with instructional support about the skills and knowledge necessary to engage in elementary teacher preparation in mathematics. The materials have been developed for flexible use by many end users, including professors, trainers and others.


Shandy Hauk, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA; Jenq-Jong Tsay, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX