UW, UNC Receive $5 Million Grant to Deliver Mathematics Program
October 20, 2008 — A $5 million National Science Foundation grant will fund a joint partnership involving the University of Wyoming to offer distance-delivered professional development opportunities for mathematics educators.
The UW Science and Mathematics Teaching Center (SMTC), UW Department of Mathematics and the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) recently received a five-year grant from the NSF's Math-Science Partnership Program.
The grant will fund a jointly-sponsored Mathematics Teacher Leadership Center. The center has two major goals -- To create a virtual master's degree program targeting teachers already in the classroom and to establish a program to train and support mathematics educators who wish to become professional development providers, says SMTC Director Robert Mayes. He says the program is in response to reports issued by the NSF and other organizations indicating the need to engage more students in mathematics disciplines.
"It specifically targets leaders in mathematics education," says Mayes of the latter program. "It will examine how to create good professional development that is sustainable, how to become a leader in mathematics education and how to conduct workshops."
He adds that the program will focus more on how to actually become a provider of professional development in mathematics education.
The master's degree program will be offered through online technology. Each institution will deliver approximately 15 hours of course work.
"Students can take courses from either institution and have them accepted at in-state tuition from the university that offers it and is accepted by either university," Mayes says.
The program's first students will begin next summer. Courses taught on-site at UW and UNC and video-streamed to the other site will be part of the inaugural semester. Web-based courses also will be offered by both universities during the academic year.
Initially, the program will be open only to Wyoming and Colorado residents. However, as the program develops, Mayes says that expanding to regional and even national delivery will become options.
The SMTC already offers a graduate-level mathematics program for teachers that focuses on middle-level math instruction and requires participants to travel to Laramie to take summer school classes.
The new master's program will expand graduate-level options to high school teachers. The online format will extend its reach to individuals that cannot leave their communities and jobs to take classes," Mayes says. "More and more, people are expecting to not have to leave their homes to take courses. It's becoming more of an on-demand world. There is a demand to have these courses in place."
The UW/UNC collaboration makes the most of each institution's resources and provides a model for distance-delivered programming in other science, technology, engineering and mathematics content areas, he adds.
"Could Wyoming do this by itself in multiple areas? It's doubtful," Mayes says. "But if we are partnering with other institutions, like the University of Northern Colorado, then that doubles our capacity."