Project Background

Four University of North Alabama Math and Computer Science faculty received a $886,000 U.S. Department of Education Math/Science partnership grant from the Alabama State Department of Education. The award will support their three-year initiative designed to improve STEM education in Alabama high schools.

The principal investigators for the grant are Dr. Cynthia Stenger and Dr. Jessica Stovall, professors of mathematics; and Dr. James Jerkins and Dr. Janet Jenkins, professors of computer science. The program is administered by the Alabama State Department of Education through the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI).

The team's initiative is called Collaborative Partnership to teach mathematical Reasoning through Computer PRogramming (CPR^2). It uses an instructional treatment the team has been investigating for its effectiveness since the summer of 2011 which integrates computer programming and mathematical problem-solving, according to Jenkins.

The grant will provide a vehicle for the UNA Mathematics and Computer Science faculty to form partnerships with regional high school and middle school mathematics faculty. Partnership activities funded by the grant include professional learning for teachers, an interactive community for instructional support, and an annual two week summer institute.

"Mathematical problem solving and computer programming are essential to innovation, and STEM education is where it all begins," Jerkins said. "Our long-term goal is to see this deployed, through AMSTI, statewide."

The grant was awarded March 1, 2013. It will fund on-site training visits for Alabama high school teachers, an interactive community for instructional support, and the cost of hosting a two-week professional learning seminar each summer for three years.

The team's plan is that, by Sept. 30, 2015, 75 high school math teachers will integrate the instructional treatment into their classrooms, and more than 8,000 high school students in Alabama will actively participate in computer programming and mathematical reasoning.

“Mathematical reasoning is a key ingredient in the Alabama College and Career Readiness Standards for high school mathematics and we have developed an innovative method of explicit instruction for mathematical reasoning” said Stenger.

“We will be presenting the material to the high schools,” Jenkins said, “but also the plan is that over time the teachers become comfortable enough to do it themselves and it becomes a part of their regular curriculum.”

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