Book Co-Authored by GSOE Dean Tackles Need to Improve Math Education

Graduate School of Education Dean Thomas Smith is a co-author of “Systems for Instructional Improvement," a new book dedicated to improving math instruction in the U.S.

Graduate School of Education Dean Thomas Smith is a co-author of “Systems for Instructional Improvement,” a new book dedicated to improving math instruction in the U.S.

Don’t consider yourself a math person? According to a team of researchers who study math instruction in the United States, the disconnect could be more of a result of how you were taught than your natural ability.

“For the past 25 years or so, there’s been a growing recognition that students at the middle-school level, in particular, aren’t developing a deep understanding of mathematics,” said Thomas Smith, dean of UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education. “A big piece of that is because of the way students in the U.S. are taught; current math instruction tends to be highly procedural — as in ‘use these steps to solve these types of problems’ — instead of allowing students to investigate real-life problems and experiment with different types of solution strategies.”

Smith, who arrived at UCR in 2014 from Vanderbilt University, spent eight years collaborating with a team of researchers including Vanderbilt’s Paul Cobb and Erin Henrick and the University of Washington’s Kara Jackson. Throughout the course of their project — titled Middle-school Mathematics and the Institutional Setting of Teaching, or MIST — the researchers partnered with four urban school districts serving a total of 360,000 students.

The goal? “To add value to those districts by providing feedback on what was and wasn’t working in their strategies for improving mathematics instruction, all while testing our own theory of action for instructional improvement based on how things were playing out in schools and districts,” Smith explained.

Read the full article here.

Tess Eyrich

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