Welcome to BYU Graduate Studies and, in particular, to the Department of Mathematics Education graduate program. Your successful completion of this program will earn you a Master of Arts degree in mathematics education. Through the experiences this program offers, you will extend your own understanding of mathematics while deepening your understanding of learners’ mathematical thinking. The Department of Mathematics Education values close, detailed mentoring of each graduate student as an active member of the scholarly community—a community devoted to exploration and inquiry into the learning and teaching of mathematics. Our program emphasizes interactions with faculty (both in and out of the classroom) that will (1) allow you to explore new mathematical understanding in both personal and social contexts; (2) immerse you deeply in exploration, inquiry, analysis and exposition; and (3) familiarize you with the ever-expanding body of research literature on learning and teaching mathematics and with prevailing research methodologies. The cumulative experiences of our program are designed to prepare you to enter top mathematics education doctoral programs, to take on important leadership roles in school mathematics education communities, and to return to classrooms better equipped to create meaningful learning experiences for all students.
In order to accomplish the purposes described above, the Department of Mathematics Education graduate program is designed to prepare you to meet the following six learning outcomes:
- Scholarship—Graduates understand and can evaluate important issues, trends, theories, paradigms of research, and research findings in the field of mathematics education, as well as their implications for the teaching and learning of mathematics in the public schools, mathematics teacher development, and participation in mathematics education scholarship.
- Research—Graduates understand research methods in mathematics education and can a) locate an interesting and important problem; b) conduct a literature review to situate the problem; c) develop a conceptual framework; d) establish focused research questions; e) choose and implement appropriate methods for collecting and analyzing data; f) address issues of research quality such as validity, reliability, and significance; and g) effectively communicate their work both orally and in writing.
- Mathematics—Graduates understand central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline of mathematics as well as core representations, canonical examples, and alternative algorithms germane to teaching school mathematics.
- Teaching—Graduates understand how to analyze topics from school mathematics in the context of the literature on students’ mathematical thinking, meaningfully apply research on teaching and learning mathematics in their teaching, and use scholarly inquiry as a lens to reflect on that teaching.
- Professionalism—Graduates have developed a level of professionalism that enables and compels them to continually seek opportunities to improve their own practice, keep abreast of advances and developments in the field both locally and nationally, and provide leadership in professional, school, and community organizations.
- Spiritual Stewardship—Graduates strive to follow the example of Jesus Christ in both their personal and professional lives, seek consistency between their understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and principles of mathematics teaching and learning, and use this enriched understanding of teaching and learning to nurture the divine potential of all in their spheres of influence.
University Policies: Students should become familiar with the Graduate Studies Catalog published by Brigham Young University. This catalog can be accessed on the graduate studies webpage (gradstudies.byu.edu) and other university policies in the undergraduate catalog found at catalog.byu.edu. Graduate students are subject to the policies, degree requirements, deadlines, fees, and standards described therein. Graduate students continue under the policies described in the Graduate Studies Catalog available and current at the time of their admission.
Honor Code: Brigham Young University exists to provide an education in an atmosphere consistent with the ideals and principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Students are expected to be familiar with and abide by these policies. Information regarding the honor code can be found on the Honor Code Office website at honorcode.byu.edu.
Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement: Each new academic year, continuing students are required to obtain a continuing student ecclesiastical endorsement. The endorsement must be completed, turned in, and processed by the Honor Code Office before a student can register for fall semester. To avoid registration delays, students should have the endorsement turned in by March 15. NOTE: Fall registration will be blocked until this process is completed. Forms and information are available at advisement centers, information centers, and the Honor Code Office or website honorcode.byu.edu.
Financial support in the form of teaching assistantships and research assistantships is provided to attract excellent full-time students to our program and to maintain them over a normal period of two years for the completion of the MA degree requirements. Although support is normally considered to be for fall and winter semesters only, from time to time, as finances permit, the department may be able to offer some level of support for spring or summer terms as well.
Teaching and Research Assistantships: Most full-time graduate students in the mathematics education program receive financial support through a contract provided by teaching or research assistantships awarded by the Department of Mathematics Education. You will need to sign a contract each semester you receive an assistantship and you will receive a paycheck every two weeks. As a teaching assistant you are often assigned to assist the instructor of record by helping out during class, teaching lab sections and holding office hours. At other times (particularly during your second year in the program) you will be assigned to be the instructor of record. In any case your teaching or research assistantship is expected to take approximately 20 hours per week.
Tuition: In addition to the contract provided to each teaching or research assistant, most full-time graduate students receive a tuition scholarship. Tuition for courses that are part of the student’s approved program of study is paid directly by the Department of Mathematics Education. The department will pay for up to 32 credit hours total. As budgets permit, the department may be able to provide some support to a part-time graduate student. A scholarship application is available from the graduate secretary to request such support. This application is due three weeks before the start of the semester requesting aid.
Guidelines for Continuation of Financial Support: The Department of Mathematics Education continues financial support to teaching and research assistants subject to budget limitations and satisfactory evaluations. The expected term of a student’s continued support is set by the department at two (2) years. Continued financial support during this time frame is recommended for teaching and research assistants who are making satisfactory progress in an approved program of study and who are judged satisfactory in their teaching duties.
Academic progress: A graduate student must maintain the level of academic progress required of all full-time graduate students (see section on Academic Progress). Failure to maintain the required level of academic progress may result in the loss of financial support.
Teaching performance: Responsible and capable teaching performance by each teaching assistant is essential for continuation of support. Incompetent teaching will not be supported, and cases of conspicuous irresponsibility or neglect will be cause for immediate termination. All instructors of record will be evaluated by the department’s teaching committee. The graduate committee will also consider their student evaluations. Teaching assistants may be evaluated by the department’s teaching committee. Again, the graduate committee will also consider their student evaluations.
Full-time graduate students with satisfactory evaluations are supported for two years in the master’s degree program. Notifications of renewal or non-renewal for the second year are distributed by the department at the end of the second semester of the first year. Assistantship appointments automatically terminate, without any special notice, at the end of the second year. In rare cases, support for an additional semester or year may be granted. To initiate a request for an additional period of support, a student should submit the request in writing, along with a written explanation of extenuating circumstances, to their advisor. The student’s advisory committee reviews the request and submits a written recommendation to the department’s graduate committee.
Degree Requirements (See Graduate Catalog: Academic Departments, Degrees and Courses)
I. Credit Hours: A minimum of 24 credit hours of approved coursework plus 6 thesis hours (699R) for the thesis option; a minimum of 27 credit hours of approved coursework plus 3 project hours (698R) for the project option. Note: Credit for undergraduate prerequisite courses, independent study courses or certification courses is not allowed.
II. State Teacher certification.
III. Required Courses: Mthed 590, 591, 3 credit hours of 611R; 9 credit hours (for thesis option) and 12 credit hours (for project option) of approved 500 or 600-level Mthed coursework.
IV. Electives: 6 credits of approved graduate level coursework (no more than 3 credits of reading course 695R).
V. Examination: Pass a written comprehensive examination. Full-time students take the examination the May following their first year. Most part-time students take the examination the May following their second year. For all students, the exam period includes two weekends and is doable while teaching in the public schools, especially with such advanced notice. For extreme circumstances (beyond a typical week of teaching), part-time students can petition to take the exam in June, after the school year has ended.
VI. Completion of Thesis Option or Project Option:
Thesis Option – Write a thesis based on an approved research project. A formal thesis proposal is required and must be approved by the advisory committee before significant thesis work is conducted.
Project Option – Write an in-depth paper based on an approved project. A formal project proposal is required and must be approved by the advisory committee before significant project work is conducted.
VII. Minor (Optional): Any approved minor. Students may include an academic minor as part of their graduate program. Requirements for a minor are to be completed in addition to the listed requirements for the MA degree in mathematics education. A minimal requirement for each minor is 9 credit hours in addition to the major hours required. Minors are described in the graduate catalog under each department that offers a minor. Students are responsible for ascertaining whether they can meet the prerequisites for each minor class taken. A member of the minor department must be included on the student’s advisory committee.
VIII. Oral Defense.
The Research Community
The Department of Mathematics Education sponsors periodic one-hour gatherings of the faculty, graduate students and other interested parties from the university community to discuss current research interests. Discussions are led by department research faculty and/or guest speakers prominent in mathematics education. You will be expected to attend these colloquia or seminars.
Graduate Student Seminar (MthEd 611R, 1 credit hour, repeatable)
The graduate seminar gives graduate students two ways to immerse themselves in the field of mathematics education. In the fall semester, students have the opportunity to read, discuss, and write about relevant public discourse, policies, and issues in a broad arena of mathematics education. In the winter semester, students are mentored in one of our courses by an experienced teacher. The seminar meets weekly for one hour. At least three credit hours of graduate seminar are required to graduate. We expect full-time students to take the seminar the first three semesters of their program. We expect the part-time students to take it each fall semester of their program.
Your path to an MA degree includes several critical waypoints to be negotiated. You should be aware of these waypoints early and plan your program accordingly. There are several different forms that will be used during your program. They can be found at http://gradstudies.byu.edu/page/advisement-forms or you can contact the graduate secretary.
Advisement (See the Graduate Catalog: General Information–Advisement)
Academic Sponsor: When you are accepted into the graduate program, the department’s graduate coordinator functions as your academic sponsor (preliminary advisor). The role of the academic sponsor is to guide your initial registration and individual study, and to assist in the selection of a thesis or project advisor and an advisory committee. You should be aware that you are required to register for at least two credit hours during the term in which you are admitted.
The Advisor: The selection of an advisor and an advisory committee, and the filing of an initial study list (program of study) are to be completed by January 15, for a full-time student (by July 15 of the first year for part-time students). In selecting a graduate faculty member as a possible advisor, you should think about your potential research interests and how they might match with the research interests of various faculty members. The academic sponsor might be helpful here. Arrange conversations with likely faculty members to discuss the possibility of working together. Such conversations might help determine not only an advisor but whether to pursue the thesis or the project option.
The Advisory Committee: When a faculty member has agreed to serve as your advisor, you and the advisor select at least two other members of the graduate faculty to join the advisor and form your advisory committee (chaired by the advisor). (If you declare a minor, there must be at least one minor department representative on the committee.)
Program of Study: The first action of your advisory committee is to approve a proposed program of study. The program of study establishes the approved courses of study for the graduate degree. The approved program of study must be submitted on the proper form to the department’s graduate secretary by January 15, for full-time students (by July 15 of the first year for part-time students). Once submitted, it is possible at any time to amend the program of study to account for approved changes by using the Program of Study Change form.
You must pass a written examination based on the foundational coursework from your first year (for full-time students) or from your first two years (for part-time students). Full-time students take the examination the May following their first year (could start the last few days of April, depending on the academic calendar). Most part-time students take the examination the May following their second year (see note above). You are given ten days to complete the exam and it will be given out Friday, May 3, 2019 and is due back Monday, May 13, 2019. There are four sections on the exam (Mthed 590, Mthed 591, Mthed general, Mthed mathematics) and you are required to answer two questions from each of the four sections. Responses to each question are limited to two pages, 12-point font, double spaced, and one-inch margins. Some exam items may request that you read new material. These materials will be distributed with the exam. If a student is not successful on the first attempt, a second attempt may be approved by the graduate coordinator in consultation with the student’s advisor.
Capstone Writing Project
Thesis: A master’s thesis in mathematics education is the written description of the results of an in-depth research project carried out under the direction of your advisor. In form, a thesis follows that accepted for research papers within the mathematics education research community. The research project on which the thesis is built usually involves development of one or more research questions, construction of a theoretical framework based on a careful reading of current literature, data collection and analysis from the perspective of the theoretical framework and the research questions, and discussion of the interpretations and findings emerging from the analysis.
Project: A master’s project is an in-depth investigation of a question under the supervision of your advisor. Like the work leading to a thesis, a project usually requires a thorough reading of current literature to develop and/or understand a theoretical framework that might provide a perspective for helpful, interesting interpretations or findings. Structurally, a project paper may require slightly less than a thesis, but a good project will incorporate, to varying degrees, the same components required to build a solid thesis.
The decision as to the form of the capstone writing project should be made in conjunction with the selection of an advisor and advisory committee, and the filing of a study list. Note: Although it is possible for a student to change their mind about whether to follow the thesis or project option, such a change does have consequences. Project hours (698R) and thesis hours (699R) are not interchangeable. You should consider the coursework and timeline ramifications of making such a change.
Completion of Thesis or Project (See the Graduate Catalog: General information–Graduation policies and instructions; and University Graduate Studies Calendar)
Thesis and project research, analysis and writing are closely guided by your advisor and the members of the advisory committee, primarily during the second half of your program. There are specific formats that you need to follow. Graduate studies has produced a document which should be consulted before beginning to create your thesis. The Department of Mathematics Education requires students to use the APA 6th edition for the format of the body of their thesis (use graduate studies format for beginning pages). All students doing a thesis are required to submit their pdf document to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Website. Please refer to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Website here: http://etd.lib.byu.edu/ for information regarding guidelines for document submission. There are, however, important deadlines, forms, and associated rules for completion of various phases of the program, which can determine the timing of graduation (e.g., scheduling of thesis defense, submission of thesis, registration during the semester or term when the defense occurs, scheduling of graduation). It is important that you be aware of these dates and plan the final steps of your work accordingly. Some deadlines are set by the Office of Graduate Studies and are non-negotiable. The Department of Mathematics Education has a few other deadlines that must be adhered to. Consultation with the graduate secretary is always a wise decision when you reach this point. The department requests a bound copy of your thesis/project for their records and a copy for the committee chair.
Evaluation of Academic Progress (See the Graduate Catalog: General information–Academic standards)
The Department of Mathematics Education expects all students in the graduate program to maintain a high level of academic performance and to make consistent progress toward graduation. In order to assure adequate progress, and in keeping with the expectations of the graduate school, graduate students’ academic progress is evaluated twice each year (usually in February and in August). Students’ progress is determined to be satisfactory, marginal, or unsatisfactory. According to BYU Graduate Studies policy, if a student receives a marginal and an unsatisfactory or two unsatisfactory ratings in succession, the student is automatically terminated from the program. In such cases students, in consultation with their advisor, may request that the graduate faculty in the department reconsider the student’s situation. If the graduate faculty agree that the circumstances warrant exception, they will submit a petition to graduate studies requesting that the student be given another semester to demonstrate satisfactory progress.
Students who receive marginal or unsatisfactory evaluations will consult with their advisor and the graduate coordinator to create a contract that delineates what the student needs to accomplish over the next six months in order to receive a satisfactory evaluation. Failure to meet the terms of this contract will result in an unsatisfactory evaluation in six months time and thus will result in termination from the program.
The following paragraphs outline the department expectations and corresponding evaluation criteria:
Coursework: Students who are on assistantship are expected to enroll for at least 7 credit hours during each semester of their first year and at least 4 credit hours during each semester of their second year. (These coursework requirements are minimal expectations. More hours than these are required to graduate in two years.) Graduate Studies requires a student to be enrolled in at least two credit hours every semester or spring/summer term. All full-time students on an assistantship are expected to be enrolled in at least one mathematics education course each semester (which could be Mthed 611R, but does not include Mthed 695R, 698R, or 699R). Also, students should take no more than 2 credits of Mthed 698R or 699R in a given semester. Part-time students are expected to register for at least 2 credit hours during each semester/term. Failure to maintain enrollment at these levels will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation. Also, graduate studies requires at least 6 hours to be completed in an academic year or the student will have to apply to resume graduate studies and pay a $600 non-refundable processing fee.
Grades of A or B are considered satisfactory. A grade of C in any course on a student’s program of study is considered marginal; a grade of D or lower is considered unsatisfactory.
Satisfactory Progress: Full-time students are expected to choose an advisor and advisory committee and to have an approved program of study by January 15 of their first year. Part-time students should meet these requirements towards the end of their first year (by July 15). Failure to meet these requirements by these deadlines will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation.
Full-time students are expected to complete the program in approximately 2 years, part-time students in approximately 3-4 years. Satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree is determined, in part, by the degree to which students are meeting the expectations set forth in their approved program of study.
MA PIBS: You will be evaluated according to the MA PIBS (Professional and Interpersonal Behavior Scale) by course instructors each semester and by faculty advisors in February and August. This scale has ten areas in which you will be evaluated: Personal Integrity, Kindness and Respect, Learning Community, Responsibility, Attendance and Punctuality, Flexibility, Initiative, Productive Independence, Dress and Grooming, and Thesis/Project Progress. You will be evaluated as to whether you exceed expectations, meet expectations or if you are unacceptable in each of these areas. Receiving more than two “unacceptables” will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation. Please see the appendix for a complete description of each category.
Masters Exam: Failure to pass the masters exam will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation.
Assistantship: Those who have been awarded an assistantship from the department are expected to perform all the duties they are assigned. Full assistantships require a commitment of 20 hours per week. Those who have teaching responsibilities are expected to receive satisfactory teaching evaluations. Failure to fulfill these duties or to receive satisfactory teaching evaluations will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation and may result in loss of financial assistance. Taking outside work beyond the assistantship is greatly discouraged. Some students in the past who have taken outside work have struggled to satisfactorily complete coursework, assistantship responsibilities, and/or adequate progress on their thesis or project. Some even failed to graduate at all. If graduate students feel financial pressure to get another job, they must meet with their advisor and the graduate committee chair in consultation. The student can take outside work if it is deemed that the student has shown adequately that he/she can take on the added responsibility and maintain their coursework, assistantship, and research work. If, in the judgment of the graduate committee, outside work is causing students to fall below satisfactory in their progress towards graduation then they will be asked to terminate outside employment or risk losing their assistantship including tuition.
Project or Thesis Proposal: All students must complete a formal thesis or project proposal, also known as a prospectus. The prospectus must be approved by the advisory committee before further work on the project or thesis is pursued. Full-time students should have an approved prospectus by July 15 of their first year; part-time students should have an approved prospectus by January 15 of their second year. Failure to have an approved prospectus by these dates will result in a marginal or unsatisfactory evaluation.
Once a student has an approved prospectus they are expected to make steady progress toward completion of the project or thesis. At the time of each evaluation, each student’s advisor will evaluate the progress of the student and report this evaluation to the graduate committee. Students will receive marginal or unsatisfactory evaluations if they are not making serious progress toward completion of the project or thesis, if they have had minimal or no contact with the advisor over the previous six months, or if they have poor performance in their chosen area of research.
To apply for graduation, a student must do so on MyBYU. This should be done well in advance of your anticipated graduation (once you get to this point, please contact the department graduate secretary for deadlines). It is not necessary to have your thesis completed before you apply for graduation but you must apply to graduate before you can schedule a final oral exam. Also, it is required to be registered for two credits in the semester in which you defend your thesis and the semester you graduate, if they are not the same. When you get to this point, you are strongly encouraged to visit with the graduate secretary so that you are aware of the many deadlines that you will be expected to meet.
Scheduling Final Oral Examination
Thesis – Form 8c must be signed and submitted to the graduate secretary at least two weeks before the oral exam; therefore, it is essential to plan ahead. A room can be scheduled by the department secretaries for the defense. After the date, time, and place have been declared on the form, the student must obtain signatures of the advisory chair and each member (making sure they are all aware of the schedule). The committee should have already seen a final draft copy of the thesis BEFORE they sign the form. The graduate coordinator must also sign the form and then submit it to the graduate secretary. Once the information has been submitted, the Office of Graduate Studies will send the graduate secretary the needed forms for the defense. There are definite deadlines by when these forms must be submitted before graduation. Please make yourself aware of these deadlines and meet them. You can get these deadlines from the department graduate secretary.
Project – Scheduling the defense for the project is not as complicated as a thesis. You and your committee decide when it will be and the conference room can be scheduled by the department secretaries. Please inform the graduate secretary also so that she can make sure of the timing and get the paperwork prepared. There are definite deadlines when things must be completed by in order to graduate when planned. Please make yourself aware of these deadlines. Once the defense has taken place and any revisions completed, make sure your committee chair signs the form in the graduate secretary’s office. Also, we require a copy of your project for our records so please provide the graduate secretary with a printed copy. Once again, there are specific deadlines and it is wise to consult with the graduate secretary when getting to the end of your program.
Once the defense has taken place and any revisions have been completed, Form 10 should be signed by the advisory chair and given to the graduate secretary. The final paperwork is given to you at the defense along with some other important information. The university requires all theses to be submitted electronically (ETD); a check list will be provided at the defense. The department requires two bound copies of the thesis. Most students will also want at least one bound copy for themselves so usually a minimum of three copies need to be bound. Please follow the instructions on Form 8d and the checklist. Once again, there are specific deadlines by when this must be accomplished before graduation. Please make yourself aware of these deadlines and follow them.
Termination of Graduate Status
A student’s graduate status may be terminated for the following reasons:
•Failure to satisfactorily complete the conditions of acceptance.
•Failure to fulfill the university’s minimum registration requirement.
•A request to withdraw (with the intent to pursue a degree at another university, for personal reasons, or in response to department recommendation).
•Two consecutive unacceptable evaluations.
•Failure to make what the department or the university deems to be satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree.
•Failure on the departmental comprehensive examination.
•Failure on the final oral examination (defense of dissertation or thesis).
•Violation of the university’s standards of conduct or Honor Code.
•Failure to comply with the time limit (five years for master’s, eight years for doctoral).
•A student dismissed or facing dismissal may request review of termination or impending termination. Such requests should be submitted in writing to the department chair. A student who wishes further consideration may request review by the college dean. Ultimately, a final request for review may be made to the Dean of Graduate Studies who may appoint a committee to review the matter. All requests for review of termination must be initiated within one year of the semester in which the termination takes place. For more information, refer to the Graduate Student Academic Grievance Policy.
Before leaving campus once everything is completed, you will need to turn in any keys that you have checked out and clean out your office.
Resources (See Graduate Catalog: Campus facilities and services)
167 TMCB, 422-1735
Graduate Secretary/Administrative Assistant
Kathy Lee Garrett
167B TMCB, 422-1840
Blake E Peterson
167A TMCB, 422-7784
Department Associate Chair
Keith R Leatham
193A TMCB, 422-2057
Daniel K Siebert
189 TMCB, 422-1751
Office of Graduate Studies (See Graduate Catalog: The Office of Graduate Studies)
Although departments and colleges carry the major responsibility for graduate programs at BYU, certain procedures occur centrally. The admissions process begins in the Office of Graduate Studies, 105 FPH, and progress toward a degree is recorded there. The office also maintains standards and requirements that apply uniformly across campus and serves as a clearinghouse for questions, problems, exceptions to policy, and requests for policy changes. The office is staffed by advisors thoroughly familiar with policies and procedures at the general university level. It is in the student’s home department, however, that the most important advising is done in regard to individual program requirements and procedures. It is essential that a student consult frequently with departmental advisors. In many instances department requirements exceed university minimums.
BYU Graduate Student Society
The BYU Graduate Student Society (BYUGSS) is a university-wide organization for graduate students that operates in conjunction with departmental organizations. Presiding officers are elected by the BYUGSS committee and work directly with the dean of Graduate Studies and the dean of Student Life representing graduate students before the university administration. Its purposes are to:
• Enhance graduate students’ participation in the larger BYU intellectual community
• Inform graduate students of research grants, seminars, and journals
• Help graduate students feel a part of the BYU community
• Advocate graduate students’ needs with administration
• Offer workshops on professional and academic topics
• Connect departmental graduate student associations
BYUGSS provides training seminars, research/travel grants, and financial aid opportunities for conferences and publications. The BYUGSS committee, which includes a representative from each college at the university, meets regularly to discuss the needs of the graduate student body and to make recommendations to the administration.
Mathematics Education Association (MEA)
The purpose of MEA is first and foremost to bring students of mathematics education together. As a graduate student member of the organization, you will be given opportunities to interact with undergraduates and faculty members who are interested in studying the teaching and learning of mathematics. The opportunity to interact is set in the context of various MEA sponsored events. You will be expected to attend the MEA events during the year and also participate in the Discover STEM event that is sponsored by MEA. These events include lecture series, discussions about mathematics teaching, and service opportunities specific to the discipline. As you interact with those studying mathematics education, you will be able to share and develop your viewpoint on the teaching and learning of mathematics. These experiences will help prepare you to become an excellent teacher and leader in the education community.