Dr. Teuscher Kicks Off Research Funded by the National Science Foundation

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After receiving an EHR Core Research Grant from the National Science Foundation In September of last year, BYU Mathematics Education associate professor Dawn Teuscher is putting her research into motion.

“Because of the elite status of the NSF and the rigorous submission process, obtaining grants through this agency is very competitive,” said Department Chair Dr. Blake Peterson. “Obtaining this grant is a significant accomplishment for Dr. Teuscher, and for the department.”

Dr. Teuscher–in conjunction with three other professors at Grand Valley State University, University of Arkansas Fayetteville, and University of Nevada Las Vegas–originally received the three year grant after submitting a proposal to measure how eighth grade teachers make curriculum choices, and explore the reasoning behind the activities that are included or excluded in lesson plans. Now, they’re getting to work.

“We’re trying to figure out why teachers are making great curriculum decisions in one classroom, but not in another classroom,” says Associate Professor Dr. Dawn Teuscher. “ If we can figure this out, we can help teachers make decisions so they can increase student learning, instead of going off on these tangents that put students to sleep.”

Dr. Teuscher and her colleagues, with the help of graduate students, recently started their data gathering procedures by observing teaching practices in eighth grade math classrooms, in four states across the US. Researchers have also started conducting periodic interviews with participating teachers before and after lessons. This data will lead the research team to evaluate how teachers make decisions both during lesson planning, and classroom situations.

Results from the study are anticipated to spark additional research or initiatives to improve teaching practices.

“You know you’re doing good research if you have more questions to answer when you’re done with your initial research,” says Teuscher. “If we’re able to find more questions, that’s when we’re really moving forward.”