Collaborative Research: Attaining Excellence in Secondary Mathematics Clinical Experiences with a Lens on Equity

About Clinical Experiences Research Action Cluster (CERAC)

An aim of many mathematics teacher education programs is to produce teachers who structure learning opportunities and use teaching practices to enable all secondary students to reason and make sense of mathematics. Clinical experiences are opportunities for teacher candidates to enact what they have learned in coursework via teaching, observing, and collaborating with effective mentor teachers. Furthermore, clinical experiences have been dubbed as powerful components of teacher preparation, more influential on long-term practices than program coursework (Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001), suggesting that clinical experiences may be critical in fostering equitable practices. This project is implementing an improvement science study to address the following question: How does a continuum of collaborative and student-focused clinical experiences, including co-planning /co-teaching and paired placement fieldwork models, impact pre-service teachers’ equitable implementation of the Mathematics Teaching Practices (MTPs) (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2014) across multiple institutional contexts?

The project is conducted by a consortium of 26 universities and their school partners engaged in the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU’s) Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership (MTE-P), which is using a networked improvement community (NIC) design (Bryk et al., 2015) to develop clinical experience models designed to build candidates’ facility with the MTPs (NCTM, 2014) and other equitable teaching strategies to promote secondary school students’ success in achieving college- and career-ready standards.

The project is designing and studying mechanisms to aid in the implementation of the following alternative models:

1) methods courses in which mentor teachers and teacher candidates experience common learning opportunities;

2) the paired placement model, in which two prospective teachers are paired with a single mentor teacher, allowing the mentor teacher to provide purposeful coaching and mentoring and the two pre-service teachers to offer each other feedback, mentoring, and support (Leatham & Peterson, 2010);

and 3) co-planning and co-teaching, which has been found to help teacher candidates gain greater pedagogical content knowledge and knowledge of students through collaboration and communication between teacher candidates and mentor teachers who plan, implement, and assess instruction together (Bacharach, Heck, & Dahlberg, 2010).

Data is being collected to guide the continued improvement of the models following the NIC design and to determine the effectiveness of the different models. The use of a NIC design is accelerating our understanding of the alternative models for clinical experiences that promote candidates’ craft of teaching and the capacity of mentors and university supervisors to support those experiences, as the models are refined using continuous improvement cycles. Testing the models across a range of institutions is increasing our understanding of adaptations needed to support local contexts. The three models will be disseminated through MTE-P’s national network of about 100 universities and their K-12 partners with the common goal of transforming secondary mathematics teacher preparation, to APLU’s broader membership, and beyond. The results of the project will be of interest to the mathematics education and teacher education communities, and the project’s adaptation of the NIC model will be of interest to others addressing significant problems of practice.

Funded by the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education & Human Resources, Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) – Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE), Development & Implement I & II: Engage Student Learning — Grant ID#s: 1726998, 1726362, & 1726853. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Select Publications

Strutchens, M., Sears, R., Whitfield, J., Lewis, J., Erickson, D., Brosnan, P., Conway, B., Junor-Clarke, P., Biagetti, S., Parrish, C., & Ellis, R. (2018). Implementation of Paired Placement and Co-Planning /Co-Teaching Field Experience Models Across Multiple Contexts. In T. Hodges & A. Baum (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Field Based Teacher Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Yow, J. A., Waller, P., & Edwards, B. (2018). A national effort to integrate field experiences into secondary mathematics methods courses. In T. Hodges & A. Baum (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Field-Based Teacher Education. Hersey, PA: IGI Global.