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New $2.9 million NSF grant to improve middle school math

Closeup of Amy Roth McDuffie
Amy Roth McDuffie

The National Science Foundation has given $2.9 million to a multi-university research team, including Washington State University, to improve how middle school mathematics teachers understand and apply their curriculum.

College of Education Professor Amy Roth McDuffie is helping lead WSU’s portion of the project, for which its four-year funding allotment is $475,898. 

“In this research project, the team develops and validates two measures of middle school teachers’ curricular reasoning in mathematics as practiced,” she said.

Roth McDuffie said she will spend time in local classrooms, and work in close partnership with teachers and educational leaders. Ultimately, she said a survey and observation protocol will be developed and validated to measure how middle school mathematics teachers use curriculum materials and curricular reasoning. 

“Teachers can use these tools to analyze their own practice,” she said. “Additionally, leaders or professional development providers can use these tools to support teachers in understanding and improving mathematics teaching and learning.” 

Roth McDuffie said this funding not only allows graduate research assistant Tara Heikila to be added to the project, but by working with the Richland School District and educators as partners in developing the tools, the project aligns well with WSU’s land-grant mission.

“District teachers and educational leaders will be able to collaborate on each of the tools we develop and refine,” she said. “Moreover, a focus of this project is student diversity and enacting equitable practices in mathematics teaching and learning.”

The collaborative project will also include research from University of Arkansas, Brigham Young University, Bowling Green State University, Drexel University, and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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