Union College Educational Studies and UK College of Education Join Forces on National Science Foundation Multi-State, Year Research Grant

Published on
October 29, 2019
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The Union College Educational Studies Unit (ESU) and the University of Kentucky’s College of Education has received $599,875 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research, develop, and implement ways of teaching mathematics that integrate equitable teaching practices. The three-year project will directly impact more than 600 college students who are studying to become elementary teachers in programs across Kentucky, as well as parts of Ohio.

The project is rooted in a pedagogical process called professional noticing. The way a child understands mathematics is different than an adult’s perception. The comments and questions students have during a lesson provide clues about their understanding of what is being taught. Professional noticing takes place when teachers recognize these clues within student reactions and develop their responses accordingly.

The research team has spent the past several years creating a system to help develop professional noticing skills in pre-service teachers. They partnered with elementary teachers in Kentucky to go into classrooms and collect video footage of the practice in action. The videos have been turned into online learning modules pre-service teachers use to help develop their own professional noticing skills. The videos have also been used in online professional development for current teachers.

Researchers will be designing the project to examine and address various equity issues that occur in the process of professional noticing, and that may contribute to the way students from various backgrounds develop mathematical skills. The project, “Microlearning Mathematics Modules that Intersect Noticing and Equity,” has been funded by the NSF for three years. 

Of the grant, Dr. Jason Reeves, Dean of Educational Studies and Professor of Education at Union College notes that “The news of this partnership with UK’s College of Education is another exciting example of the ESU’s efforts, through collaboration, to provide research-based clinical experiences that not only enhance the skill sets of our students, but whose impact on P-12 student achievement reverberates beyond the immediate. In recent years, our students have also had other similar types of clinical experiences through collaboration, including with Morehead State University and Project Lead the Way and the U.S. Department of Education’s LINK Grant in partnership with the KY Educational Development Corporation. 

Additionally, Dr. Reeves adds that the grant “will give our students the rare opportunity to work closely beside esteemed, prominent researchers from an internationally recognized research institution on a topic that remains at the forefront of P-12 education, equity. Our students will undoubtedly walk away from this Education opportunity with stronger skill sets in critical thinking, analysis of professional development on student achievement, and data-based decision making, all of which are essential for today’s teacher leader.” 

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