LIME (Leaders Investigating Mathematics Evidence) is a project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to create the next generation of researchers and leaders with Ph.D.s in special education with a focus on mathematics. It will provide tuition and stipend support, travel to conferences, and research support for twelve scholars for four years of doctoral studies. The program will be hosted at three universities: University of Texas, Austin; Southern Methodist University; and the University of Missouri.
Sarah Powell, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Special Education at UT Austin, co-authored the grant along with Leanne Ketterlin-Geller, Ph.D., Simmons professor in the Department of Education Policy & Leadership at SMU, and Erica Lembke, Ph.D., professor in the College of Education at the University of Missouri. Additional team members from SMU Simmons include professors Amy Rouse and Annie Wilhelm, Department of Teaching and Learning.
The citation reads “In her already substantial body of published work, Dr. Dominique J. Baker has consistently focused on how higher education policies affect minoritized student populations. Dr. Baker has regularly shared her research and expertise with the wider policy community via numerous op-eds and policy briefs. As evidence of the high esteem in which her work is held, Dr. Baker was recently asked to give testimony before the U.S. Senate.”
Baker also was recognized by the Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) with its Early Career Award, which she received at the association’s annual conference in March.
Her research focuses on the way that education policy affects and shapes the access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate. She is a faculty member in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership.
DALLAS (SMU) – To SMU math curriculum researcher Candace Walkington, the best way for students to understand math is to make it part of their lives. She’ll use her recent $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help students see that math is in the angle of a giraffe’s neck at the Dallas Zoo and in the flutter of the leaves of the cottonwood trees at Twelve Hills Nature Center in Oak Cliff.
These are just two of the stops on Dallas STEM walks, guided walks that illustrate how mathematical principles can be found in one’s surroundings. During the five-year grant, Walkington will partner with Dallas STEM walk nonprofit, talkSTEM, to better understand how educators can support math education outside of school and the role out-of-school experiences like these play in enhancing math education. First up: developing an app that turns a cell phone into an interpretive math tool.
“In this research, rather than having kids see math as symbols that exist on a worksheet or on a computer screen, we want them to see it as something that exists in the world all around them – the trees, the buildings, the artwork and the things they use every day,” says Walkington, associate professor of teaching and learning at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. “We want to help them to look at the world through the lens of math.”
Researchers will spend the first year of this grant developing a gamified app called Mathfinder, which is targeted to students in grades four through eight. The app will use augmented reality (AR) to create overlays enabling learners to hold up the camera of their cell phones to see mathematical expressions layered over the real-world objects in their camera feeds, such as the angles and shapes within the architecture of a building. It also will include short videos and directions for STEM walks, Walkington says.
“Mathfinder will give feedback to students on the walks they create and provide data to community partners on how much time students spend at each stop,” she says.
STEM walks at nine Dallas learning sites will be featured in the app, including the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Zoo, Frontiers of Flight Museum, the GEMS Camp, the Girl Scouts STEM Center of Excellence, St. Phillips School and Community Center, Twelve Hills Nature Center and Voice of Hope Ministries.
At the Dallas Arboretum, Dustin Miller, director of experience and innovation, says the four-stop Arboretum STEM walk is already popular with visitors.
“At the Arboretum’s Children’s Adventure Garden, the educational intent is very straightforward,” he says. “The main garden’s STEM walk, however, gives people a way to engage with the garden in a way they don’t expect.”
Participating in the research will give the Arboretum an opportunity to collect quantitative data on site, he says. “This research will help us create ways for visitors to experience the gardens in a new and different way.”
For Koshi Dhingra, founder and CEO of talkSTEM, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of future STEM leaders, participating in the research will help her nonprofit understand best practices for creating STEM walks and correcting roadblocks to learning. The creation of the Mathfinder app promises to make STEM walks more engaging and convenient, she says.
Dhingra earned her doctorate in science education and has dedicated her career to STEM education, but has new appreciation for the importance of understanding mathematical concepts as a building block for all sciences.
“When students begin to see that math is all around them, not just in an algebra or calculus textbook, they begin to see themselves as math people,” she says. “They need this competency and confidence to open doors to other STEM fields.”
The NSF grant builds on Walkington’s previous research on math education. An associate professor of teaching and learning at SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Walkington has earned more than $11 million in math education research grants, and in 2019 received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the U.S. Department of Education. Co-principal investigators for the grant include Dhingra; Anthony Petrosino, Simmons associate dean for research and outreach; Cathy Ringstaff, senior research associate, WestEd; and Elizabeth Stringer, director of academics, Guildhall.
SMU (Southern Methodist University) is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and over 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.
About Simmons School of Education & Human Development
The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU (Southern Methodist University) reflects the University’s vision of serving the most important educational needs of our city, region and nation, graduating students for successful careers in a variety of fields and providing educational opportunities beyond traditional degree programs. Recognized as a unique and transformative leader in education research, practice and policy, the School is committed to rigorous, research-driven programs that promote evidence-based, effective practices in education and human development.
Assistant Professor Dominique Baker, Dept. of Education Policy and Leadership, provided her expertise on admissions lotteries for a Wall Street Journal story on ways to replace admissions tests for colleges and universities.
Baker, who has run lottery simulations with Michael Bastedo at the University of Michigan, says lotteries don’t necessarily create more diverse classes. Read the article here.
Mathematics education professors Candace Walkington and Annie Wilhelm weigh in on the substantial drop in math STAAR scores during the pandemic. Both point out that the loss of math knowledge creates an opportunity to teach mathematics in new ways –and it has to be a systemic change.
Wilhelm tells The Dallas Morning News that prioritizing what students learn is key, explaining that educators should focus on the lessons that students must understand to be successful in their next grade level and future careers so they can “dig deep” rather than cover everything superficially.”
Walkington says that having students in virtual instruction makes it harder for teachers to engage with them.“That really points to a problem with mathematics instruction itself and the way we’re teaching it, not with the kids and not with the teachers.” Read more.
For a CBS11 broadcast story with Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, click here.
The National Center for Intensive Intervention (NCII) names Research in Mathematics Education’s Alain Mota this year’s Data-based Individualization Champion for his contributions to Project STAIR, a shared effort with the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Missouri, and SMU. The work supports algebra readiness in middle school for students with learning disabilities and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.
Mota is the STEM development and implementation coordinator for RME. In his Project STAIR role, he has co-facilitated webinars, collected data, and coauthored reports and guides based on the “virtual year” of implementation. Researchers at the University of Missouri nominated him for the recognition.
He was honored recently during NCII’s ten-year anniversary celebration. Congratulations to him!
As classes in the Dallas Independent School District conclude June 18, a new school in West Dallas gets ready to start. The Pre-K to 8 STEM School breaks ground virtually to celebrate its opening in mid-August.
In this video, the convener is Principal Marion Jackson, who highlights what students and their families can expect. The first group of students to study at the school will be seventh and eighth-graders.
The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas ISD Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and the West Dallas community.
Several Simmons researchers and their co-investigators at other universities were recognized for their STEM projects by the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase, funded by National Science Foundation.
Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, Beth Adams, STEM evaluation researcher, Tiffini Pruitt Britton, math education researcher (co-principal investigators), and their team received a Presenter’sChoice award for their video, Supporting Equitable Participation and Access. Led by Principal Investigator Jonee Wilson, assistant professor at North Carolina State, the video shows that aiming for equity involves identifying and outlining specific practices that support and empower students who have historically been underserved specifically in mathematics classrooms. This video also was noted for being one of the projects that registered the most discussion.
Associate Professor Candace Walker and her team received a Facilitators’ Choice award for their video, Stories of Algebra for the Workplace. The project examines how practitioners in STEM and STEM-related careers use algebra to do their jobs and then uses this information to build classroom activities for students enrolled in algebra courses. The team includes Simmons Ph.D. students Brooke Istas, Jonathan Hunnuicut, and Min Wang, and fellow researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, Worcester Polytechnic University, and Texas A&M created
The 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM for All Video Showcase is an annual online event. Each year, it hosts between 100-200 three-minute video presentations from federally funded projects that aim to improve STEM (Science, Math, Engineering, and Mathematics) and computer science education. During the seven days of this online event, Principal Investigators, practitioners, administrators, researchers, policymakers, industry, and the public at large are encouraged to participate.
The Dallas Morning News gives a thorough look at how a teacher can administer quick literacy tests to assess how students are progressing, as they build up their knowledge after staying at home during the pandemic.
Featured is Kindergarten teacher Michelle Davis, who is getting a graduate degree in education from the Simmons School. One of her professors, Diane Gifford, Ph.D., explains why this approach is effective in getting students up to speed. For a full version of the story, read more.
Assistant Profesor of Higher Education Denisa Gándara is one of five early-career researchers selected by the William T. Grant Foundation to receive $350,000 “to execute rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.”
Gándara will examine how the administrative burdens of free-college programs, such as eligibility criteria and application processes, impact college enrollment and degree completion for racially or ethnically minoritized students. She aims to provide a more complete understanding of how administrative burdens affect students from different racial or ethnic groups, and, ultimately, to inform program design in ways that help reduce gaps in program take-up and degree attainment.
“By supporting their research agendas and professional development, the William T. Grant Scholars Program seeks to contribute to a bright new generation of scholars who will bring rigorous research to youth policies, programs, and practices in the U.S.,” said the Grant Foundation’s Senior Vice President Vivian Tseng.