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Release: Oct. 4, 1999

UI is awarded mathematics and technology grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of Iowa College of Education an $800,000 grant to study how technology can be used to improve student learning of mathematics.

The Mathematics Through Technology (MTT) project will develop instructional material to assist students in grades five to eight learn mathematics by using technological tools such as spreadsheets, graphing software, data bases and the Internet. The teaching units developed will be field tested in schools in Eastern Iowa, Atlanta, Minneapolis and San Diego. An important part of the project is to determine how technology can enhance students’ mathematical reasoning and essential skills, according to Project Director Douglas Grouws, professor of mathematics education in the UI College of Education

The MTT project will create Internet-based instructional modules for students and accompanying teacher guides for use in guiding the instruction. These stand-alone modules will use dynamic Internet sites as a source of realistic, current data for students to use in activities and investigations. The materials will guide students to learn about and use computer software as tools to organize, display and analyze data, and then to develop solutions to pre-planned and post hoc research questions they have posed.

The modules will foster an active, investigative approach to learning and center on important mathematical concepts. The key mathematical concepts include exploratory data analysis, rates of change, proportional reasoning and relationships among fractions, decimals and percents. There will be a focus on connecting mathematics to other disciplines such as science (e.g. weather, tides, volcanoes) and social studies (e.g., population growth, economic indicators). Specific attention will be given to embodying the ideas and concepts in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards.

The principal investigators -- Grouws and Professor Lucy Payne at the University of St. Thomas -- bring considerable experience to this project. They recently worked on a three-year project supported by the U.S. West Foundation. They worked with 36 middle grade teachers in finding and implementing ways technological tools could be used in teaching important mathematics in classrooms with a variety of technological capabilities.