Examining the Evolution of a University Summer Campus Program for Mathematics Teachers
Troutman, Susan Vincent
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During the last century, concerns about America’s economy, national security, and social justice have swayed citizens, educators, and politicians to recommend changes in mathematics education. School leaders and policy makers realized that if the recommended changes in the mathematics curriculum were to be successful, mathematics teachers would need high-quality professional development to transform their teaching in order to provide all of their students with opportunities and support necessary to learn significant mathematics with depth and understanding. The University School Mathematics Project (USMP) was established in 1987 as a bridge between the mathematics research community and mathematics teachers. While this specific goal of the program has remained constant, the professional development provided during the USMP Summer Campus Program (USMP SCP) for K-12 mathematics teachers has undergone significant changes in response to a variety of social and political factors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the evolution of the USMP SCP, examine the factors that impacted the evolution of the program, and identify components of the program that contributed to its sustainability. A qualitative research design that incorporated components of case study, narrative, and historical research was utilized for this study. Participants of this study included a selection of USMP SCP administrators, master teachers who provided instruction during the USMP SCP, and participants of the USMP SCP. Surveys and interviews with these different populations, who had varying perspectives on the USMP SCP, and the examination of archived data provided a holistic understanding of the USMP SCP. Content analysis was used to analyze the written responses given on descriptive surveys, oral statements given during the focus group and interviews, and relevant archived data collected. Data collected for this study suggested that the evolution of the USMP SCP was impacted by financial support, changes in the teaching force, curriculum standards, technology, accountability, and equity. By responding to these factors impacting mathematics education, the USMP SCP has evolved and continues to be an enduring source of professional development for mathematics teachers. Several aspects of the USMP SCP were found to contribute to its sustainability. These components include the faculty and staff, collaboration and adaptability, high-quality professional development, and communities of practice. The findings from this study will contribute to the body of research on professional learning for K-12 mathematics teachers.