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Release: Immediate

UI education professor receives $518,000 for curriculum project

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- High school students may soon learn complex mathematical subjects in new ways that take advantage of advances in computer technology, thanks to a $518,000 grant to a University of Iowa College of Education assistant professor.

Rose Zbiek, who specializes in mathematics education in the Division of Curriculum and Instruction, has been awarded $518,477 to help develop a new, computer-supported curriculum to improve the mathematical education of high school students.

Zbiek's award is part of a $1.8 million grant to researchers at Pennsylvania State University from the National Science Foundation.

The new, four-year grant is designed to capitalize on an earlier pilot project by Zbiek and other researchers that resulted in a one-year curriculum for teaching algebra to high school students, called Computer-Intensive Algebra (CIA).

In CIA, students use computers to model real-world relationships and to study function and advanced mathematical concepts, and then use the models and concepts to solve a variety of mathematical problems.

The one-year curriculum, "Computer-Intensive Algebra/Concepts in Algebra: A Technological Approach," is currently in use in 26 states.

The new project, called CAS-Intensive Mathematics Project (CIM), will create a three-year curriculum that complements and extends the CIA curriculum. It will assume constant access but not dependency on computer algebra systems (CASs) and dynamic geometry software.

"We have found that integrating mathematics at the level of concepts with a package of computing tools has been quite successful in raising the level of mathematics comprehension and sophistication," Zbiek says. "The idea for the curriculum component of the new project is to extend that model-based, computer-supported curriculum throughout the high school years. Students will use powerful but affordable computing tools to study multiple aspects of pure and applied mathematics."

Zbiek says the use of technology in mathematics education relies on a synergistic relationship, a connection the new curriculum project is designed to research.

"To study mathematical understanding and thinking in the presence of technology, we need students engaged in mathematical tasks that involve technology, and we need students who know how to use the technology well enough to do mathematics," she says. "Conversely, the better we understand mathematical understanding and thinking in the presence of technology, the better able we are to construct curriculum materials that appropriately engage students in learning and doing mathematics."

Zbiek and Kathy Heid of Penn State are co-directors of the project.

4/7/97