Leanne Ketterlin-Geller

Simmons School researchers receive $2.5 million NSF grant to develop math-skills assessment system

Lindsey Perry and Leanne Ketterlin Geller

Lindsey Perry and Leanne Ketterlin Geller

SMU researchers have received a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to target the ongoing struggle of U.S. elementary and high school students with math.

The new four-year grant, to the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, is led by SMU K-12 math education experts Leanne Ketterlin Geller and Lindsey Perry. They will conduct research and develop an assessment system comprised of two universal screening tools to measure mathematical reasoning skills for grades K–2.

When it comes to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math, research shows that U.S. students continue at a disadvantage all the way through high school and entering college. The NSF grant provides “an opportunity to develop an assessment system that can help teachers support students at the earliest, and arguably one of the most critical, phases of a child’s mathematical development,” said Ketterlin Geller, a professor in the Simmons School and principal investigator for the grant developing the “Measures of Mathematical Reasoning Skills” system.

Teachers and schools will use the assessment system to screen students and determine who is at risk for difficulty in early mathematics, including students with disabilities. The measures also will help provide important information about the intensity of support needed for a given student.

Few assessments are currently available to measure the critical math concepts taught during those early school years, Ketterlin Geller says. “Providing teachers with data to understand how a child processes these concepts can have a long-term impact on students’ success not only in advanced math like algebra, but also success in STEM fields, such as chemistry, biology, geology and engineering.”

— Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

SMU’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education names Leanne Ketterlin-Geller director of K-12 STEM Initiatives

Leanne Ketterlin-GellerSMU’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education has named Associate Professor Leanne Ketterlin-Geller as its new director of K-12 STEM Initiatives.

A faculty member in education policy and leadership and director of research in mathematics education in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Ketterlin-Geller will bring a cross-disciplinary focus to her new role with the Institute, housed in the University’s Lyle School of Engineering.

Ketterlin-Geller is an expert in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and her research focuses on mathematics education through instructional leadership principles and practices. Her new position will include working with the Caruth Institute’s Infinity Project, developing partnerships with area schools, working with Lyle engineering programs geared toward middle and high school students, and working with departments and faculty members to match their engineering expertise to K-12 outreach opportunities.

Ketterlin-Geller will work closely with Delores Etter, executive director of the Caruth Institute and TI Distinguished Chair in Engineering Education, as well as other faculty members from both schools to advance the K-12 STEM initiatives of the Institute.

“Professor Ketterlin-Geller’s extensive experience as a leader in STEM and K-12 education will bring much needed expertise in addressing the critical mission of the Caruth Institute,” Etter said. “Her role within the Simmons School of Education and Human Development will strengthen the necessary collaboration between our two schools.”

“The work that Dr. Ketterlin-Geller will direct is essential to our goal to increase the number and diversity of students with both the enthusiasm and knowledge to pursue the engineering careers that are necessary for the U.S. to compete in a global economy,” said Lyle Dean Marc Christensen. “This appointment demonstrates our commitment to the emerging collaborations between the Simmons School of Education and the Lyle School of Engineering. We look forward to what we can achieve together.”

“Through these Caruth Institute initiatives students will see the power of math in daily life – and engineering is where we really see this at work,” said Ketterlin-Geller. “We hope to develop engaging and interesting programs for both teachers and students that will help all students develop both confidence and competence in STEM fields. This collaboration presents an exciting opportunity to work across disciplines to help foster innovation in K-12 STEM education.”

A former high school science teacher, Ketterlin-Geller has served as principal investigator for federal, state, and locally funded research grants emphasizing the development of instructional materials and formative assessment procedures in mathematics. Much of her research is focused on supporting algebra readiness in elementary and middle school mathematics. She works closely with teachers and administrators to understand the application of measurement and assessment principles for making decisions in school settings. She publishes and delivers presentations on mathematics education, measurement and assessment as well as special education.

Ketterlin-Geller and Simmons School Dean David Chard are part of the national research team working on the George W. Bush Institute’s education initiative, Middle School Matters.

> Read the full story from SMU News