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National Science Grant Awarded to Improve Local Math Education

Four faculty standing outside
From left to right: Keith Thiede, Sam Coskey, Joe Champion, Michele Carney. Photo credit Carrie Quinney

Four Boise State faculty from across multiple disciplines have been selected to receive an award of three million from the National Science Foundation. With this support, the team will begin a partnership with local teachers to improve sixth through eighth grade students’ mathematics achievements. Faculty include principal investigator Joe Champion, an associate professor of mathematics; co-principal investigator Michele Carney, an associate professor of curriculum, instruction and foundational studies; Keith Theide, associate dean and professor of the College of Education; and Sam Coskey, an associate professor of mathematics.

The project focuses on modeling and problem solving through effective sequencing of instructional practices, known as Researching Order of Teaching (ROOT). It will include 16-18 middle and junior high schools and 100 mathematics teachers between the sixth and eighth grades to assess and compare instructional methods that support student learning and problem solving in middle school mathematics. The grant will be managed through Boise State’s Center of School Improvement and Policy Studies.

“Our local area is lucky to have many excellent teachers working to improve student math achievement,” Champion said. “We’re excited to create a new teacher-researcher alliance that’ll capture some of those teachers’ great work, and use student data to amplify effective teaching strategies.”

Housed in Boise State’s Regional Math Center, the ROOT project will encourage collaboration between middle grade mathematics teachers to design and develop well-articulated effective instructional practices for improving modeling and problem solving, and then compare sequences of effective instructional practices for improving students’ modeling and problem solving.

“This project complements existing professional development programs offered through the Regional Math Center and is another example of the excellent culture of interdisciplinary collaboration that’s emerged around STEM education at Boise State,” said Carney.

Benefits of ROOT for Idaho teachers and schools include:

  • Free, sustained professional development
  • Specific focus on improving ISAT math performance
  • Up to $6,000 in stipends over three years per teacher
  • Up to nine paid professional development credits over the course of three years per teacher
  • Annual stipends for schools to support data submission