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Faculty Team Appointed OBR Teaching Fellows

Date: April 23, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photo by Dottie Stover
Archive: General News

A team of two University of Cincinnati faculty members is among three state university-represented teams to be appointed to the Ohio Board of Regents' new Teaching Fellows in Mathematics and Science program. The program pairs education faculty with faculty in arts and science, with the goal of improving K-12th grade student performance in the areas of math and sciences by strengthening Ohio's teacher education programs.

Steve Pelikan and Joy Moore

Joy Moore, who holds a dual appointment as assistant professor of mathematical science, McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and assistant professor of teacher education for the College of Education, and Stephen Pelikan, professor of mathematical sciences(A&S) will formally take the position for one year beginning July 1. They will be introduced to teams representing The Ohio State University and Ohio Northern University at an orientation in Columbus April 26. They will be formally introduced as Teaching Fellows May 10 at the Ohio Board of Regents meeting at the Wyndham Dublin Hotel in Columbus.

The Teaching Fellows program is part of Ohio's Title II Initiative for Enhancing Teacher Quality. Moore and Pelikan will be collaborating with other teacher education institutions around Ohio. "I know of no other program like this in the United States," says Jon Tafel, vice chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. "The Ohio Board of Regents is focused on making math and science a priority for Ohio's teacher preparation institutions."

The Fellows program considered evidence of how institutions linked arts and sciences colleges with their teacher education programs, evidence that won UC national recognition through its award-winning Cincinnati Initiative for Teacher Education (CITE). Faculty also had to demonstrate success in their own teaching performance, plus serve at higher education institutions that reported success on the PRAXIS II exams, which qualify students to become teachers.

The UC Fellows will be focusing their expertise on education programs for future middle school teachers. Moore was principal investigator of a middle school math collaboration that won the College of Education and A&S one of three OBR grants under the Ohio Title II initiative last year. Each of the three awards were $9,000 for collaborative course development. The collaboration between faculty in the College of Education (Moore and Janet Bobango, associate professor of teacher education) and A&S (Pelikan, Moore and Dave Minda, professor of mathematical science) resulted in the development of three math courses that started last fall for pre-service middle school teachers: Algebra for Middle School Teachers, Geometry for Middle School Teachers, and Number Sense and Number Relations for Middle School Teachers.

The courses combine content (math) with different teaching methods of how to get the student to understand that content. "My personal philosophy for effective mathematics education is that teachers have to know the content just as well as they have to know how to teach the content," says Moore. "That's why we feel it's so vitally important that we're making that connection, not just in theory but in actual practice.

"These courses are designed for students to get a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics ? to provide greater depth of mathematical concepts. The reason being, if you know the math conceptually and contextually and with all of these different dimensions to it, then because you have such a strong content background when you get ready to teach it, you can present the same content in five, six, seven different ways and you're better equipped to reach diverse learners."

Moore adds the middle school age is where the student achievement gap begins to occur. "Research indicates that minority students of color start kindergarten with the same school mathematics achievement as majority students, but around age nine the gap starts to develop, with African American and Hispanic students underrepresented in high levels of school mathematics performance. That gap widens as they continue through formal schooling."

Without that critical mathematical foundation, Moore says students are missing out on future opportunities, including a successful performance on college entrance exams. "Preparing teachers to address the multifaceted issues of poor student achievement in mathematics is a step toward improving the mathematics achievement of all students," she says.

She adds that UC's A&S/College of Education collaborative efforts can serve as a model for other education programs across the United States in preparing excellent teachers. "Based on my experiences at national education conferences, our particular type of collaboration seems to be lacking in other places," Moore says.

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