Date of Award

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Engineering and Science Education

Committee Member

Dr. Lisa C. Benson, Committee Chair Co-Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Geoffrey Potvin, Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Zahra Hazari

Committee Member

Dr. Marian Kennedy

Abstract

As a nation, we face a critical need to expand and enhance the STEM workforce and to improve the quantitative literacy of our populace. Doing so requires effective instruction in mathematics at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through post-graduate studies. However, while much work has been done to improve K-12 teacher preparation in mathematics, and to help new faculty members learn to balance research and teaching duties, we are only beginning to address the preparation of mathe-matics graduate students to teach. Moreover, those limited efforts have, until recently, been largely focused on imparting teaching strategies rather than on developing a teacher identity. Transforma-tive change in STEM education requires that university faculty members integrate teaching as a key component in professional identity. Identity is most fluid during transition stages, and graduate education is certainly that. By understanding how mathematics graduate students situate teaching within their developing professional identity as a mathematician, we may begin to understand how to bring about lasting change. This project describes a mixed-methods multiple case study. Four first-year mathematics gradu-ate students participated in a semester-long teaching seminar jointly attended by 18 pre-service secondary mathematics education majors. The graduate students and four of the undergraduates assisted with classroom instruction in precalculus courses at the university. Seminar meetings were designed to foster communication between the groups and to support develop of a teaching iden-tity in both groups. The study seeks to understand how those four graduate students experienced teaching in their first year of graduate school. Intellectual Merit Currently, no framework exists for understanding the development of a teacher identity among mathematics graduate students. The results of this study may help in the adaptation of existing frameworks for teacher identity among preservice secondary mathematics teachers; and for profes-sional identity among secondary teachers, clergy and psychologists. Such a framework could then serve as one component for evaluating professional preparation of mathematics graduate students. In addition, it could assist in the development of effective materials for inducting mathematics graduate students into a professional community that embraces teaching as one aspect of scholarship. Broader Impacts Graduate students bear a heavy share of the introductory mathematics teaching load at institutions around the country. Improving their preparation to teach will have a direct impact on the quality of STEM education for the general populace. Since those graduate students go on to form the mathematics faculty across the nation, encouraging them to develop a professional identity that includes teaching as a core component will arguably have a lasting impact on STEM education nationwide. An imperative first step in creating such transformative change is understanding how graduate students perceive teaching.

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