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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State awarded $1.9 million to advance student access to math

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Photo of integrated app utilized to record data on higher math comprehension in K-12 students Photo By Brittlin Richardson

Texas State received a $1.9 million grant on Sept. 6, to create an app to help engage elementary and middle school students in math.
The National Science Foundation, a government agency that funds research and education in non-medical science and engineering fields, awarded the grant for the project.
The project employs four main components: the creation of the interactive app Math Habits Tool, the assessment of classroom learning through video recordings, collecting data concerning the success of the app and professional development for teachers and school officials. The project will occur over a four-year period with the majority of the funds going towards the further development and integration of the Math Habits Tool in classrooms and schools throughout the country.
The app will give the ability to track student response to teaching methods in real time and the findings will help develop research-based ways for teachers to engage students.
Kathleen Melhuish, assistant professor of mathematics and principal investigator for the project, said as a result of past research initiatives the project is important to providing an obtainable goal of teaching students and teachers alike the best practice.
“We want to work on explicating issues of access to mathematics and teaching moves that can guarantee [high-quality math instruction to] the very diverse group of students we have in schools in Texas,” Melhuish said. “It [will help to ensure] not just some students that are getting access to high-quality mathematics, but everyone is.”
The Texas Education Agency’s statewide summer 2018 summary of the STAAR Algebra I standardized test reported out of nearly 28,000 tested students, almost 17,000 did not meet passing standards. Nearly 13,000 of the students that did not meet passing standards are considered “economically disadvantaged.” The project seeks to close the gap of inequitable math instruction and ensure schools have access to the best practices.
The project is multi-sited and includes Portland State University and Teachers Development Group, a professional development non-profit. The project will be housed at Texas State, the main investigative authority in conjunction with Portland State doing a majority of the research with graduate students. For schools who wish to integrate the system, researchers will work with teachers or principals to merge the system with the classroom.
Andrew Pyle, history senior and student teacher at Hays High School, said he has seen numerous students struggle in math and believes math instruction should adapt to different students’ learning style.
“As generations go on, students learn differently and instruction needs to change so students can learn with their own style,” Pyle said. “Math is a very important subject as more and more careers involve it. This research will make a huge impact as it affects how students learn and what they learn.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, announced Texas State’s receipt of the grant, stating they are increasingly important to ensure students are given the best opportunities within the STEM field.
“Our world’s increasing reliance on technology and data means strong STEM-focused minds will continue to be in high demand, and we should give students in these fields every advantage to succeed,” Cornyn stated in a press release. “I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant, and I’m grateful to the Trump Administration for supporting Texas State.”

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