GSE Faculty Awarded Grant for Collaborative Research on Mathematics Education by NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Dr. Keith H. Weber, Professor at Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE), Dr. Juan Pablo Mejia-Ramos, Associate Professors at the GSE, and Dr. Amy Cohen-Corwin, Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences, a grant totaling $291,085, for their research study “Collaborative research: ULTRA: Upgrading Learning for Teachers in Real Analysis.” Dr. Weber, Dr. Mejia-Ramos, and Dr. Cohen-Corwin will work with Nicholas Wasserman of Teachers College, Columbia University, and Timothy Fukawa-Connelly of Temple College of Education, to design, implement, and assess an innovative real analysis curriculum for pre-service mathematics teachers.
The study focuses on how real analysis concepts are taught to pre-service secondary mathematics teachers. Real analysis is a central course in advanced mathematics that investigates many topics that are central to high school mathematics, such as the real number system and continuous functions. The researchers are examining if integrating real analysis concepts into practical teaching methods will allow pre-service teachers to see the relevance of advanced mathematics to their practice and help them develop tools to improve their teaching.
In the United States, pre-service secondary mathematics teachers must take advanced mathematics courses to receive certification. Unfortunately, researchers have found little correlation between taking these courses and improving teachers’ pedagogy or their students’ learning outcomes.
In the instructional modules developed in this grant, pre-service teachers will first examine a classroom situation where teachers need a deep understanding of mathematics to respond appropriately. The ensuing discussion by pre-service teachers will highlight the mathematical issues involved, at which point the teacher-researcher can illustrate how the study of real analysis can address these issues. The first two years of the study will involve extensive design research, where the researchers will review and refine the instructional sequence of real analysis concepts. In the final year researchers will test the efficacy of the sequence at Rutgers University, Columbia University, and Temple University. If successful, the study will offer curriculums with real analysis concepts connected to advanced mathematics and practical teaching methods, allowing pre-service teachers to engage in related content knowledge while improving their instructional skills. Dr. Weber and Dr. Mejia-Ramos hope that the instructional model that they develop and evaluate can serve as a transformative model for how advanced mathematics courses can be taught to pre-service teachers.
“The outcomes of this study will improve how advanced mathematics courses are taught in teacher preparation programs,” noted Dr. Weber, principal investigator on the grant. “Connecting advanced mathematics with pedagogical situations will enable pre-service teachers to develop the tools and knowledge needed to improve their practice before they enter the classroom.”
Dr. Weber is a researcher of mathematics education, with a focus on the way mathematicians and mathematics majors present, read, understand, and evaluate proofs. To learn more about Dr. Weber’s research, please visit his faculty profile on the GSE website.  
Dr. Mejia Ramos’ research interests include mathematical argumentation and proofs. He is particularly interested in the way college students and mathematicians construct, read, and present arguments and proofs. To learn more about Dr. Mejia Ramos, please visit his faculty profile on the GSE website.