Students’ Application of Concavity and Inflection Points to Real-world Contexts

Students’ Application of Concavity and Inflection Points to Real-world Contexts

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In mathematics education, much of what is taught connects to the outside world. However, there are often disconnects between how students learn math in math courses and how they use or apply that math in the real world or in science courses. Past research has shown that this is especially true of calculus content. Dr. Steven Jones chose to study this disconnect from application to other fields by examining the calculus concepts of concavity and inflection points and how they are reasoned qualitatively and quantitatively by students. Dr. Jones conducted his research by giving students currently enrolled in calculus courses particular tasks which dealt with these concepts. Some tasks were ones that would be typically seen in their calculus classes and others dealt with examining these concepts in real world…
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The Structure of Student Teaching Can Change the Focus to Students’ Mathematical Thinking

The Structure of Student Teaching Can Change the Focus to Students’ Mathematical Thinking

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For many undergraduates studying in the field of math education, student teaching serves as a trial run for their real world experience. When structured correctly, student teaching can prepare students to be excellent mathematics teachers when they finally step into their own classroom. However, when the focus of the experience is on classroom management rather than on teaching the educational material, the student teacher fails to garner the skill most vital to their chosen profession: helping students to learn and understand mathematics. In 2006, Dr. Blake Peterson and Dr. Keith Leatham (current chair and associate chair of the BYU Mathematics Education Department) evaluated their traditional approach to student teaching, and then restructured the student teaching experience to better meet the needs of the student teachers and of the program. This…
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Professor Dawn Teuscher wins research award from NCTM

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…
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How students interpret line and vector integral expressions

How students interpret line and vector integral expressions

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Professor Steven Jones is fascinated with how we, as humans, think and how we communicate with each other about our thoughts. He chose to teach at BYU because “It has such great students. I also have great colleagues in my department.” He has been teaching at BYU for almost six years now. In October of 2017, Jones presented his findings entitled “How students interpret line and vector integral expressions" at a mathematics conference. The basic idea of this study came from the fact that “students struggle in multivariable calculus, especially in making sense of the ideas, beyond just being able to calculate the right answers on tests. I wanted to dig in and see what I could learn about these challenges.” While this curiosity has led to a potential series…
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Good mentoring during student teaching pays off in first-year

Good mentoring during student teaching pays off in first-year

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMzUuGR1UWA&feature=youtu.be Kelly Eddington, a recent graduate now teaching at Bear River High School, has learned to enjoy her interactions with the sophomores and juniors she teaches. “As a student teacher I was a little unsure how to interact with the students and how to make connections,” said Eddington. “Just from experience and practice I have learned to connect with teenagers and get to know them as people. I am more patient with their sometimes ‘disruptive’ behavior because I see them as kids who just want to have fun.” Eddington’s experience with student teaching is not an uncommon one; many student teachers have to face realities of teaching that they did not realize existed before.  The challenges are different for all teachers, but the reality is always the same—being a new…
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Allyson Anderson’s Teaching Journey

Allyson Anderson’s Teaching Journey

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Learning to teach can be a tough process, but as Allyson Anderson knows a rewarding one too. Anderson, who graduated in April 2017, is now a full time 9th grade math teacher at American Fork junior high in her first full year of teaching. Going from classes at BYU to teaching real kids was not an easy transition as every teacher knows, but Anderson is especially grateful for the preparation she received from her classes and her teaching mentor. “My favorite part of student teaching was having a teaching partner who helped hold me accountable and helped me see the progress that I was making every day,” she said. “It was tough getting used to teaching every single day because I was always finding things I could improve upon every…
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Mathematics Education Colloquium with Dr. Kastberg

Mathematics Education Colloquium with Dr. Kastberg

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BYU Mathematics Education department invited Dr. Signe Kastberg from Purdue University to give a colloquium on March 29 on relational teacher education. Dr. Kastberg’s research interests are in mathematics teacher education, specifically relational practice including exploring and illustrating listening, trust, care, and empathy, and the ways in which these sustain and motivate student-teacher collaborations. “What we are trying to do was to foster interactions that help others and ourselves to grow, and there will be reciprocal interactions as we make ourselves vulnerable to others [the students] and showing who we are as a person, and then we will feel responsible for contributing to the growth of each other,” said Dr. Kastberg at the colloquium. . According to Dr. Kastberg’s research, relationships have been identified as foundational in professional education including…
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Support Teachers to Develop Productive Classroom Discussion

Support Teachers to Develop Productive Classroom Discussion

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BYU Mathematics Education Assistant Professor Kate Johnson co-authored the textbook “Mathematics discourse in secondary classrooms: A practice-based resource for professional learning”. The textbook was published in November 2017 after eight years of researching, writing, and evaluating. “I wrote most of the material when I was working on my doctorate at Michigan State University, and because of the amount of work and time that I put in, the faculty who is in charge at that time decided to recognize my work and put my name as one of the authors,” said Dr. Johnson.  The book provides seven professional learning modules that offer important ideas to assist students to engage in richer and deeper conversations in class, such as what kinds of conversation is more meaningful in learning mathematics. Another purpose of…
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Student Teaching not only Prepares but Lands Student Jobs

Student Teaching not only Prepares but Lands Student Jobs

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Chelsey Van de Merwe, a student who switched her major to Mathematics Education after her LDS mission was hired 3 months after student teaching at Mountain View High School. Every student in Mathematics Education is required to student teach in the last semester. In Fall 2017, the vast majority of the students who graduated from the program have secured a full-time job. “For a semester I wanted to do marine biology, but I always loved math. After my mission, I fell in love with teaching, then I came back and decided that I was going to teach math,” said Chelsey. The BYU Mathematics Education program prepares students with different courses that focus on task design, lesson planning, observation in public school and classroom rehearsal. In “Mathematics Teaching in the Public…
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Digital Literacies in Mathematics

Digital Literacies in Mathematics

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BYU Mathematics Education Graduate Coordinator Dr. Daniel Siebert co-authored the article “Digital Mathematics Literacies,” which was published in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy in March 2017. The paper provides recommendations of best practices for teaching digital literacies in mathematics classrooms. The American Library Association defines digital literacy as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, which requires both cognitive and technical skills. Digital literacy varies across disciplines, and should not be generalized. “A lot of times, literacy educators think these general reading and literacy skills should apply across all different subject areas, and my argument is that when you look at literacy in mathematics, it is very different than literacy in other fields,” said Dr. Siebert. The article is written…
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