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Portrait photo of Mary Beisiegel.

Mary Beisiegel awarded new NSF grants

Congratulations to Mary Beisiegel who has been awarded two new National Science Foundation grants!

A first project entitled "Collaborative Research: Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistant Professional Development Focused on Implementation of Evidence-based Teaching Practices”, was awarded $2.1 million, with OSU's portion $855K over five years. In collaboration with Mary Pilgrim at San Diego State University and Erica Miller at Virginia Commonwealth University, this project aims to serve the national interest by preparing mathematics graduate teaching assistants (MGTAs) to implement teaching practices designed to improve the success of students in undergraduate mathematics courses. To this end, the project will provide MGTAs with a multi-year professional development program to help them implement evidence based teaching practices, including active learning. The professional development program will include an intensive teaching seminar and two courses focused on active learning and inclusive teaching. This approach, which provides MGTAs with extended professional development over multiple years, contrasts with the conventional practice of providing MGTA training only in their first year of graduate school. To help develop their leadership skills, experienced MGTAs will have the opportunity to serve as teaching mentors for newer peers. Over the five-year span of the project, more than 35,000 undergraduates will be taught by MGTAs who have received this multi-year professional development. It is expected that thousands more students will be served in the years that follow, as many of the MGTAs move into academic careers. The project will be implemented at Oregon State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and San Diego State University. As a result, the project will have multiple contexts for examining the impact of the professional development on MGTA teaching attitudes and practices, as well as on the success of the undergraduates in the MGTAs classes. The project will compare outcomes at the three institutions to generate new knowledge about MGTA professional development, to explore what works in which contexts, and to develop an explicit theory of change related to MGTAs teaching practices

A second three year project for $124K (OSU portion) was awarded for "Collaborative Research: Algebra Instruction at Community Colleges: Validating Measures of Quality Instruction”. This STEM Learning and Learning Environments project seeks to advance understanding of algebra education at community colleges. It will build on prior work to explore further the relationship between the quality of instruction in college algebra classes and teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. This "knowledge for teaching" is the mathematical understanding that teachers need in order to be effective teachers of mathematics. For example, this knowledge enables teachers to explore and diagnose why students are struggling with a mathematical concept and provide targeted help. Despite its critical role in US higher education, instruction at community colleges is a neglected sector of instructional capacity in the United States. To advance mathematics education research related to the first two years of college, this project will develop the Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Community College Algebra assessment. This assessment will identify the specialized knowledge that teachers need for teaching community college algebra in a way that supports student growth in thinking about fundamental mathematical concepts. The project will also advance previous work by refining the Evaluating the Quality of Instruction of Post-secondary Mathematics instrument, which assesses characteristics of high-quality instruction in community college algebra courses. These efforts will enhance the research tools available for studying post-secondary teaching at community colleges, specifically in college algebra. Since college algebra is often a gateway course to STEM degrees, this project has the potential to improve the recruitment into and success of students in STEM fields and, thus, support STEM workforce development.