Elevating the Mathematical Profile of STEM Instruction at Miami University

Project Title: Elevating the Mathematical Profile of STEM Instruction at Miami University

Project Lead’s Name: Dana Cox

Email: dana.cox@miamioh.edu

Phone: (513) 529-9728

Please Choose the Primary Affiliation: CAS

Are There Other Project Team Members?: Yes

Other Project Team Member: Suzanne Harper

Other Team Member Email Address: harpersr@miamioh.edu

Brief description of project: The mathematical preparation of preservice teachers at Miami University should include significant experiences with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics. This project will support us in incorporating data collection and analysis, computer/robot programming, and problem solving experiences into existing mathematics content courses.

Does this project focus on graduate student education or graduate student life?: No

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem.: Although recent educational reforms emphasize the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), many elementary and secondary teachers feel less knowledgeable and less comfortable teaching integrated content areas than isolated subjects. "Findings indicate that experiences with STEM learning and teaching through integrated, place-based activities had a positive impact on prospective teachers' understanding of place-based approaches, their perceived ability, and projected intent to design and implement place-based STEM learning activities"(Adams, Miller, Saul & Pegg, 2014).

We have been exposed to some of the STEM technologies being integrated into classroom instruction at the elementary and secondary levels through Sara Roche, STEM coordinator for Talawanda School District. She was recently invited to speak for the Miami University Council of Teachers of Mathematics and gave an overview of innovations that she is helping local teachers make at the elementary level. We have also spoken with local secondary teachers who are being asked to incorporate engineering principles into newly designed STEM courses for middle and high school students. The technologies requested here would make our coursework responsive to professional efforts to integrate mathematics with science, computer programming, robotics, and engineering in the classroom.

It is imperative that we prepare interns and prospective teachers for the realities of the contemporary mathematics classroom. It is important that they are mathematically prepared, but also that they experience the technologies they will be expected to use to promote problem solving and integrated learning. We plan to incorporate these technologies into three existing courses for prospective teachers: Mathematics for Elementary Teachers II (MTH 116), Geometry for Middle Grades Teachers (MTH 218), and Mathematical Problem Solving with Technology (MTH 408). This would impact approximately 160 Miami University undergraduates per academic year.

Furthermore, we'd like to help our elementary and secondary prospective teachers understand the profound instructional shifts that are going on with regard to technology-rich STEM instruction. By taking a proactive stance during their mathematics content courses, these prospective teachers will be better positioned to consider the implications for teaching in their methods courses. These activities and lessons aim to teach students to think critically and have an engineering or design approach towards real-world problems while building on their mathematics and science content knowledge.


Adams, A.E., Miller, B.G., Saul, M., & Pegg, J. (2014). Supporting elementary pre-service teachers to teach STEM through place-based teaching and learning experiences. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 18(5). Retrieved from http://ejse.southwestern.edu.

The criteria state that technology fee projects should benefit students in innovative and/or significant ways. How would you describe the innovation and/or significance of your project?: This project is innovative in that it is the first time Miami University has incorporated STEM ideals into mathematics content courses for prospective teachers. This requires different approaches at elementary and secondary levels, though the technology we are requesting is relevant to all teachers K-12.

Elementary and Middle Grades. Miami University does not currently have a course where future K-8 mathematics teachers are exposed to technologies related to teaching and learning mathematics. Though we have begun to incorporate some software into our MTH 116 and MTH 218 courses, adding these technologies would significantly advance those efforts. More importantly, we can expose our students to the technologies without making curricular changes or sacrificing mathematical content; all of the requested technologies can be used to teach existing topics in a deeper and more inquiry-driving way. For example, we plan to have our students program the Ozobots to construct quadrilaterals given a set of prescribed properties. This would replace a current lesson on studying pre-drawn quadrilaterals and sorting according to prescribed properties.

Secondary. Our required course on mathematical problem solving (MTH 408) is an ideal setting for this innovation at the secondary level. In this course, we already introduce students to a variety of tools for mathematical problem solving. Adding these technologies to the curriculum will provide a much-needed update as well as an advancement of available topics. As technologies and content expectations change over time, so must we adapt! With applications to computer programming and robotics, we feel that this will simultaneously expand the variety of problems we can offer our students and pull our course into better alignment with the realities of the classroom. For example, the bluetooth enabled temperature probes will enable students to use their phones, laptops, or tablets directly to collect and analyze data relative to Newton's Law of Cooling.

How will you assess the project?:

K-12 Preservice Mathematics Teachers will be more aware of STEM principles and feel confident incorporating STEM technologies into their mathematics instruction.

Amendments to the course evaluations for MTH 408, MTH 218, and MTH 116 will be made to assess student perceptions of the impact of these technologies. A survey will also be designed to assess their self-efficacy with regards to incorporating STEM principles and technologies into mathematics instruction.

Have you applied for and/or received Tech Fee awards in past years?: No

What happens to the project in year two and beyond? Will there be any ongoing costs such as software or hardware maintenance, supplies, staffing, etc.? How will these be funded?: There will be no ongoing costs to this project. Drs. Cox and Harper will maintain the technologies and donate their time to future necessary upgrades.

Budget: Other

Other (please explain): STEM programmable robots, science temperature probes, motion detectors

Other Costs: $2,022.96

What is the total budget amount requested?: $2,022.96