Mathematics Education degrees and faculty exist in three departments across two colleges:
Mathematics (College of Natural Science)Teacher Education (College of Education)Educational Psychology (College of Education)
Mathematics Education is NOT a department at MSU, but we function as a Faculty Group.
Students with interests in mathematics education may pursue graduate
degrees (with different emphases) in any one of the three departments
are in the process of creating a new, cross-college graduate program in
mathematics education that we anticipate will be the future home for
most students who currently enroll in one of the three existing
New graduate program summary
Click the above link to download a description of the rationale,
background, and requirements of the new doctoral program in mathematics
Professional development opportunities
kind of professional development for teaching that graduate students
participate in is determined by which department they are employed by
(which may or may not be the same as the one in which they are enrolled
as a graduate student).
For graduate students who are teaching in the Teacher Education Department's Teacher Preparation Program:half-day pre-semester orientation sessionhalf-day "opening institute" for Teacher Preparation Programrequired year-long course (TE 994)
Other opportunities:apprenticeship in Teacher Preparation coursescourse on U.S. schooling for international graduate students
For graduate students who are teaching in the Department of Mathematics:half-day pre-semester orientation session for all graduate students in the departmentperiodic meetings with course supervisor during semesteroptional 5-week modules or semester-long course (SME 879)
Michigan State University community provides several resources to
support graduate students' and faculty members' development as
teachers. Some of these resources are specificially tailored to the
needs of teachers in mathematics and science (Certificate in Teaching
College Science & Mathematics; Center for Intergration of Research,
Teaching, and Learning), while others support teaching in all subject
areas (Teaching Assistant Program; Office of Faculty and Organizational
Follow the links below to explore the resources provided by each program.
Teaching Assistant Program
Services offered by the TA program all MSU TAs.
Certificate in Teaching of College Science & Mathematics
Voluntary comprehensive program to prepare graduate students in the
College of Natural Science for careers in post-secondary education
while enhancing the quality of their teaching at MSU.
Mathematics Teaching Assistant Professional Development website
This website contains information about (and resources for) teaching
assistant preparation and professional development. It also contains
information about educational research on TAs. It is a "wiki" website
(anyone can contribute content).
Center for Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL)
Promotes the development of a national faculty in STEM fields committed to effective teaching for diverse students.
Office of Faculty and Organizational Development
Supports MSU faculty and staff with Faculty Development and Organizational/Leadership Development programs.
Student backgrounds and teaching responsibilities
We prepare students with a variety of backgrounds to teach a variety of courses in mathematics and mathematics education:
Backgrounds:No teaching experienceK-12 mathematics teaching experienceK-12 teacher educator experienceUndergraduate mathematics teaching experience
Courses students/graduates may teach:K-12 teacher education courses (methods)Mathematics content courses for K-12 teachers Undergraduate mathematics courses (for majors and non-majors)Mathematics education courses (research, curriculum, policy)
TE 994: Practicum on Teaching and Teacher Education (Mathematics section)
Required of all graduate students who hold teaching assistantships in the Teacher Education Department's Teacher Preparation program.
Course goalsStudents receive support as they make the transition from mathematics teacher to mathematics teacher educator and researcher;Students examine perspectives on what teachers need to know and be able to do to teach mathematics in elementary and secondary schools.Students experiment with a variety of pedagogical approaches and resources in mathematics teacher education. Students become familiar with the variety of contexts for teaching and learning in the teacher preparation program. Students consider questions, approaches, and methods of research in mathematics teacher education. Students design and conduct research in the context of their teaching.
Research on this course
faculty members who developed and taught this course have been studying
how the course shapes graduate students' development as teacher
educators. Click the above link to download a paper reporting on this
Goals for students
the time students complete their Ph.D., they should have developed
knowledge, skills, and dispositions appropriate for teaching
mathematics education and mathematics content courses. Typically,
students will have focused on one area of teaching more extensively
than the other, but students are expected to developed familiarity with
teaching in their secondary area as well (either by taking one of the
courses described above or by teaching a course).
How do we know?
all cases, there is a faculty member who is directly responsible for
supervising graduate students as they teach. The details differ by
department, but there are regular (typically bi-weekly) meetings of the
faculty supervisor and graduate students who are teaching the same
course or are teaching in the same part of the Teacher Preparation
Program. These meetings are one way that faculty assess graduate
students' teaching practices and development as teachers. Assessment in
this context is possible because the meetings entail discussion of
particular course activities/content and what happened during specific
classes. These discussions provide faculty with access to how graduate
students are thinking about their teaching, student learning, and the
factors they consider when making instructional decisions.
evaluation of students differs in the two departments, but both entail
observations by a faculty member. In the Teacher Preparation Program,
the observation is followed by a consultation and a written report is
completed that is signed by both the faculty observer and the student.
The report includes the faculty member's assessment of whether the
students' teaching is adequate or in need of improvement. If it needs
improvement, a specific professional development plan must be provided,
including the department or campus resources that will be provided to
the Dept. of Mathematics, a shorter report is completed, without a
required consultation. The report includes the faculty member's
assessment of the student's level of competency along several
dimensions (clarity of spoken and written presentation, mathematical
accuracy, classroom atmosphere).
progress and breadth/depth of experience is typically discussed during
students' committee meetings (which begin with a "guidance committee"
that is formed during a student's second year). These meetings are held
at least annually and at these meetings faculty members and the student
discuss the student's career goals and what set of teaching experiences
will best prepare the student to pursue those goals. Since students
typically arrive at graduate students with experience teaching
mathematics, gaining experience teaching mathematics education courses
is usually a top priority. In some cases, however, students are not
familiar with K-12 mathematics teaching and need to gain such
experience so they can participate in aspects of teacher preparation.
The committee makes recommendations about the balance of teaching- and
research-oriented assistantships the students should pursue for the
coming year as well as the particular kind of teaching opportunities
the student should apply for.
A note about department cultural differences
culture related to teaching in the College of Education and the
Department of Mathematics differ in substantial ways. These differences
are evident in: how students are hired into teaching positions (by faculty in Teacher Education; by Graduate Director in Mathematics);how
they are prepared and supported while they teach (required year-long
course in Teacher Education; required orientation in Mathematics);how
they are evaluated (by Teacher Preparation Program
faculty/administrator in Teacher Education; by faculty member who is
course supervisor in Mathematics);how
ability to teach is valued for purposes of future employment
(substantial component of application/interview process in education
(teach demonstration class, give pedagogical colloquium, etc.); smaller
role in the hiring process in mathematics (possibly require philosophy
of teaching statements as part of application));the
role that teaching and scholarship of teaching is likely to play in
their careers as faculty (a substantial focus in education for annual
reviews, tenure, and promotion evaluations with an expectation for
scholarship based in one's teaching; less emphasis in mathematics, but
expectations for participation in K-12 teacher preparation and/or
SME 879: Teaching College Mathematics
Designed for graduate students who are teaching or intend to teach mathematics content courses.
Course goalsStudents develop their pedagogical content knowledge for key topics in undergraduate mathematics;Students acquire knowledge of student thinking through readings and inquiry into their own students' thinking;Students receive guidance and support to teach their current classes as well and to prepare them for a variety of issues that may arise in their future teaching positions. Students receive feedback about their teaching;Students observe a variety of types of instruction;Students create items appropriate for a "teaching portfolio;"Students may use this course to fulfill one of the requirements for the College of Natural Science's "Certification in College Teaching."
we are not (explicitly) preparing graduates for the other kinds of
teaching they will do if they assume roles as mathematics education
faculty members. These kinds of teaching include, for example, teaching
undergraduate and/or graduate courses in mathematics education, courses
in research methods, policy, and curriculum design. In education, it is
assumed that graduate students will acquire skills to teach these kinds
of course and little or no mentor or professional development is
provided to new faculty in this area. How might we incorporate this
kind of preparation into our program, given that very few graduate
students will have the opportunity to teach such courses during their
time in the program?
are also not preparing our students for other teaching-related
responsibilities such as being an advisor, serving on state/national
teaching standards committees, providing other kinds of teaching
consulting services. Are these kinds of activities the sort that must
be learned "on the job" or are their experiences we could create for
our students to help prepare them?