Professor Dawn Teuscher wins research award from NCTM

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On April 3rd, 2019 Professor Dawn Teuscher along with former students Kylie Palsky and Charlie Palfreyman, received the Linking Research and Practice Outstanding Publication Award from NCTM for their co-authored article “Inverse Functions: Why Switch the Variable?” published in the March 2018 issue of Mathematics Teacher.

“I was surprised by the award, but also excited to know that my work was appreciated and applicable to mathematics teachers. One of my reasons for leaving teaching in the public schools is that I wanted to influence more students than just my 180 students each year. I feel like my job now is to influence teachers, who then can influence their students. This allows me to impact more students than just those who would have taken my mathematics class.” 

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to Linking Research and Practice published in the NCTM practitioner-focused journals selected by the NCTM Research Committee.  In other words, each year this committee selects an article from each of the three journals for teachers that helps teachers make connections between mathematics education research and teacher practice. 

In her article, “Inverse Functions: Why Switch the Variable?”, Professor Teuscher explores the questions: Why do we teach students to switch the variables to find an inverse function and how might this be confusing for students? “We discuss common misconceptions that students develop when they use the technique of switching the variables. We also discuss ways of teaching inverse functions with meaning that allow students to make sense of inverse functions.”

Dr. Teuscher had many teachers who inspired her to be a teacher, but more importantly it was her students who inspired her to learn how to think as they did rather than how she thought. 

“I think that being a teacher is hard work, but it is the most rewarding work as well. I love when students begin to understand difficult concepts and how they become excited to learn more. I enjoy the opportunity I have to go to a job that is different every day and most often every class period of one day. My job is never boring and I don’t know that any two days have been the same. I think that research, as intimidating as it might be, is always a way to check to see if something is working or not. Research is what has moved teaching to the level that it is – we continue to improve and we continue to be better as we research and find answers to our questions. “