Math Ed 218

Task Design and Assessment

Winter 2010


Professor:      Blake E. Peterson                                Class Time:  TTh 9:30-10:50 am

Office:            193B TMCB                                      Classroom:    154 TMCB

email:                    Office Hours: MW 1:30-2:30 pm    

phone:                        422-7784                                                                     TTh 1-1:50 pm                                                                                                                                   and by appointment



Stein, Smith, Henningsen and Silver. Implementing Standards-based Mathematics Instruction: A Casebook for Professional Development. Teachers College Press (2000).


Harold L. Schoen, editor.  Teaching Mathematics Through Problem Solving, Grades 6-12.  NCTM (2003).



It would be helpful to have a graphing calculator for this course.


Course Description: 

This course, along with Math Ed 117, is designed to give prospective secondary teachers an opportunity to consider the question, “How do we best learn mathematics so it can be understood, extended and applied?” and the related questions, “How do we best teach mathematics for understanding?” and “How do we assess mathematical understanding?”  We will gain insight into these questions by exploring some of the big conceptual ideas, strategies and models that underlie the skills and procedures of secondary school mathematics.  Additional insight will come from examining how children learn mathematics through engaging in worthwhile mathematical tasks and how tasks can be used to identify and assess mathematical understanding.   Concepts to be studied in this course include: concept identification, task development, assessment tools, and the issues that arise when designing and implementing worthwhile mathematical tasks.





Because we will be developing a community of learners in which ideas will be shared and examined, daily attendance is expected.  Because class exploration and discussion will be the center of our work, our time together in class will require more thoughtful participation than in a traditional lecture format.  Prompt class attendance is crucial.  So also, is a willingness to formulate and ask questions about the mathematics you are learning, being anxiously engaged in sharing your ways of thinking mathematically, and seeking to understand the mathematical thinking of others. It is important that we create an atmosphere where the sharing of ideas is valued and safe, where we don’t face ridicule for expressing a lack of understanding or for making mistakes.  Examining mistakes and misunderstandings are all part of the learning process, and are even necessary to our growth. Because of the importance of attendance, a 2% grade deduction will be assessed for each absence past the second one.


Grading:        Homework                                                                              50%

                              Midterm Exam                                                                        20%

                              Curriculum Project                                                                  30%


                                       100-93%      A             76-73%       C

                                         92-90%      A-            72-70%       C-

                                         89-87%      B+           69-67%       D+

                                         86-83%      B             66-63%       D

                                         82-80%      B-            62-60%       D-

                                         79-77%      C+           59-0%         F




Problems and Exercises

In addition to the larger mathematical tasks discussed in class, a variety of smaller problems and exercises will be assigned as homework.  These problems and exercises will introduce or reinforce important mathematical ideas and concepts.  While you should work diligently on all assigned problems and exercises, only selected samples will be graded.


Reader Response Papers

On a regular basis you will be asked to respond to assigned readings by writing a summary and  reflection (2-3 pages) about the reading.  In your paper, you should address the following questions:


                  What?                          What are the “big ideas” of this chapter or article?

                  So What?                     What are the implications of these ideas for the learning and teaching of mathematics?

                  Now What?                 What are the implications for you?  How is your personal philosophy of how students learn mathematics and how you might teach them evolving?


Midterm Exam

During the second half of the semester, we will have an exam which will assess your understanding of the mathematics we have investigated in addition to the principles of task design. More details about the timing of the exam and the nature of the content will be provided later in the semester.


Curriculum Project, Report and Presentation

During the regularly scheduled final exam period (Saturday, April 17 @ 2:30 pm), each group will present a task and assessment they have developed to the entire class. The task should be rich and open-ended to allow your students to explore and develop mathematical power and strength.  As part of your project you will complete the task and assessment yourselves and discuss the mathematical topics covered.  Your presentation should be accompanied by a three-page, carefully written exposition of the same material, in depth.  Begin early to think about a topic and discuss your presentation well in advance with your professor.  Plan carefully about what you will say and write.


Daily Schedule:  Classwork tasks, homework problems and reading assignments will be posted for each class period on Dr. Peterson’s website  The homework assignments will have specific due dates.  There will be a 20% deduction from the grade for each class period they are late.


Honor Code Standards

In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work.  Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another.  Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university.


Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards.  Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment.  It is the university’s expectation, and my own expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards.  Please call the Honor Code Office at 422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.


Preventing Sexual Discrimination or Harassment

Sexual discrimination or harassment (including student-to-student harassment) is prohibited both by the law and by Brigham Young University policy.  If you feel you are being subjected to sexual discrimination or harassment, please bring your concerns to the professor.  Alternatively, you may lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Office (D-240C ASB) or with the Honor Code Office (422-2847).


Students with Disabilities

If you have a disability that may affect your performance in this course, you should get in touch with the office of Services for Students with Disabilities (1520 WSC).  This office can evaluate your disability and assist the professor in arranging for reasonable accommodations.


Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)

The Department of Mathematics Education and the Teacher Education Department at Brigham Young University support the propositions and standards as outlined in the INTASC conceptual framework for preparation of teachers.