Video by Matt Haugen, WSU News
RICHLAND, Wash. – A mathematics education expert at Washington State University Tri-Cities is part of a multistate National Science Foundation-funded project looking at middle school math curriculum materials. The findings are expected to help the people who write textbooks and those who design professional development for math teachers.
Amy Roth McDuffie, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Teaching and Learning, received about $260,000 for her work. She and colleagues at three other universities secured the four-year grant — worth $2.2 million — for the research project, “Developing Principles for Mathematics Curriculum Design and Use in the Common Core Era.”
“The grant’s coming at a really good time,” Roth McDuffie said. “Math teachers finally have a common set of standards, and now we’re looking at how teachers use classroom materials and what resources they need so they teach the right thing at the right time.
“Teaching is not about delivering information from a text,” she said. “It is about supporting students to make sense of and use math concepts and processes, and curriculum materials can play a key role in this work.”
The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics have been adopted by more than 40 states, including Washington, which means more consistent teaching. Common standards also make it easier to research how the materials help sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders learn.
The research team is focusing on sixth-grade lessons involving ratios and proportions and eighth-grade lessons on linear functions — all considered central ideas in middle school curriculum.
Roth McDuffie and her colleagues from the University of Rochester, Michigan State University and Western Michigan University are researching:
• The features of materials that best support effective instructional design
• The characteristics of teachers and school districts that best support effective instructional design
• How teachers use materials to design instruction that addresses the new common core standards.
The project is looking at about 70 teachers, representing various communities and school settings across the nation, including those who use digital resources as well as conventional textbooks.
Roth McDuffie’s role is to create data collection tools for researchers to use while observing and interviewing those teachers. In addition, she will be involved with data analysis and writing the results.
Roth McDuffie earned her Ph.D. in mathematics education in 1998 from the University of Maryland and her master’s in instructional technology from Johns Hopkins University. She worked seven years as a high school math teacher. She joined WSU Tri-Cities in 1998.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. Each year, NSF receives more than 45,000 competitive requests for funding and makes more than 11,500 new funding awards. See http://www.nsf.gov.
WSU Tri-Cities is located along the scenic Columbia River in Richland, Wash. Established in 1989 with upper division and graduate programs, WSU Tri-Cities expanded in 2007 to a four-year undergraduate campus offering 18 bachelor’s, 10 master’s and six doctoral degree programs. Learn more about the most diverse campus in the WSU system at http://www.tricity.wsu.edu.
Amy Roth McDuffie, WSU Tri-Cities Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kari Tutwiler, WSU Tri-Cities Communications Coordinator, 509-372-7323, email@example.com