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Virginia's Mathematics Specialist Institute Project: A Summary of Evaluation Findings


"Horizon Research, Inc. (HRI) serves as the external evaluator for the NSF Institute's "Preparing Virginia's Mathematics Specialists" project, described in a previous article. Participants in this project do coursework at each of three Summer Institutes. These five-week residential experiences have been held on the campuses of Norfolk State, Virginia Commonwealth University, and George Mason University. During each Institute, participants complete two of the five required mathematics courses and the first half of an Educational Leadership course. Participants complete the second half of each Leadership course by February of the following year. At the third Institute, participants complete the final mathematics course, as well as a course entitled, Mathematics for Diverse Populations. These nine courses-six mathematics and three leadership courses-are the major components of the Mathematics Specialist preparation program.

In our capacity as external evaluator, we have observed several days of each Summer Institute. In addition, we have surveyed Institute participants and interviewed them on several occasions. Data from these activities point to specific impacts resulting from the Institutes. In this article, we discuss three kinds of outcomes:

  • Impacts on Mathematics Content Knowledge;

  • Impacts on Participants’ Perception of their Pedagogical Content Knowledge; and,

  • Impacts on Participants’ Perceptions of their Leadership Skills.

  • We devote one section of the article to each impact, ending with a discussion of participants’ thoughts about the residential aspect of the Institute."