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PMET Activities Open on Four Fronts

By Bernie Madison


PMET Participants at Appalachian State, August, 2003


Strengthening the mathematical education of America's teachers is the immediate goal of the NSF-funded MAA project called Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers (PMET). The primary lever for PMET in achieving this goal is to assist college and university mathematics faculty in providing better courses for future K-12 teachers. During the first eight months of PMET's four-year term, 105 faculty have participated in PMET workshops, eighteen have attended a PMET minicourse, and numerous others have been encouraged to join PMET's effort.

An extensive series of workshops and minicourses for college and university faculty is the central PMET activity and the first to get into full swing. However, the other three components — information and resources dissemination, mini-grants, and regional networks — have begun and are gathering steam.

Four PMET workshops — all fully subscribed — were held during this past summer, three for faculty teaching future elementary teachers and one for faculty teaching future high school teachers. The elementary workshops were held in California (Patrick Callahan, leader), Nebraska (Ruth Heaton and James Lewis, leaders), and North Carolina (Holly Hirst and David Royster, leaders). The two-summer extended high school workshop was in New York (Jack Narayan and Stephen West, leaders) and will have its second and final session next summer.

Another two-summer high school workshop (Ed Dubinsky and Kathy Heid, leaders), funded by MAA's PREP program and a pilot for PMET, began in summer 2002 and finished in summer 2003.

Eight new workshops are scheduled for 2004 (information on these workshops can be found at the end of this article). Because of this expanded offering, more leaders are needed for 2004 and even more will be needed for 2005. Consequently, in addition to workshops for college faculty, PMET has held two workshops for workshop leaders.

PMET's plans include workshops for college faculty on providing professional development opportunities for in-service K-12 teachers, anticipating that these workshops could be developed in collaboration with others, possibly state systems. No collaborations have emerged, due in part to the economic problems in most states. For the present, the emphasis will remain on pre-service teacher education.

A series of mini-courses aims at laying the foundation for workshop participation and to sensitize additional faculty to some of the critical problems in the mathematical education of teachers. Mini-courses will be proposed for all MAA national meetings and will be offered at some MAA section meetings. The first mini-course, led by Jack Narayan and Phyllis Chinn, was presented at MathFest 2003 in Boulder, CO last summer. Another PMET minicourse is scheduled for the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Phoenix in January 2004 with Jack Narayan and Holly Hirst as leaders.

The first call for PMET mini-grant proposals was issued last summer with a deadline of October 15. During this round, approximately $75,000 will be awarded in grants of $2000 - $5000 to teams of mathematicians and education specialists. Each mini-grant project must aim at improving courses for future teachers as well as promoting stronger mathematical education of teachers within the grantees' department(s) and institution(s). This process will be repeated in 2004 and again in 2005.

PMET aims at elevating the priority that is placed on teacher education by mathematical science departments. One way of doing this is by a broad-based information and resource dissemination effort. So far, several panels at professional meetings of other organizations have been presented or scheduled, a website (/pmet) has been constructed, a first-contact brochure has been printed and distributed widely, and several collaborative efforts have been initiated. The website will be a central source of information for both the project and for resources on teacher education. Suggestions for links to other relevant sites, curricular materials, reviews of curricular materials, and other efforts in teacher education are being solicited (information on this can be found at the end of this article).

Regional networks are being developed around the five states in which PMET is concentrating initial activities — California, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. These networks are aimed at energizing, coordinating, and sustaining efforts within the regions.

PMET officially began February 1, 2003, with the awarding from NSF of expected funding of $3 million (NSF DUE - 0230847) to the MAA with sub-awards to the University of Arkansas and Kent State University. PMET has additional support from Texas Instruments in both funds and use of TI equipment for workshops. The MAA's Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers is the sponsor of PMET, and the CBMS report, Mathematical Education of Teachers (MET), is the basis for the PMET philosophy.

PMET is managed by the MAA office in Washington, a project office at the University of Arkansas, and an office for workshops at Kent State University. Bernard Madison (University of Arkansas) and Alan Tucker (SUNY at Stony Brook) are Project Co-directors and Ed Dubinsky (Kent State University) is Associate Director for Workshops. They are advised by a National Advisory Committee and a Workshops Advisory Committee (These committee lists can be found at the end of this article).

As an extension of information dissemination and establishing support networks, PMET seeks to collaborate with other like-minded efforts to improve teacher education. Parties interested in pursuing possible collaborations are invited to contact the PMET project office or one of the project directors. Contact information is available at /pmet.

The external evaluation of PMET is being directed by Peter Ewell, Vice President of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems of Boulder, CO. The ultimate goal of PMET — better mathematical education of America's K-12 students — is two steps removed from the main focus of PMET's efforts, college and university faculty. Consequently, authentic end results of PMET's efforts will require an extended and complex evaluation effort. No such extension is possible under the current project's plans and funding, but the PMET leadership is discussing design of such an effort with Dr. Ewell.


PMET 2004 Schedule of Workshops

For preparing future elementary teachers:

Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA - Phyllis Chinn and Dale Oliver, Leaders
University of Nebraska, Lincoln - Ruth Heaton and James Lewis, Leaders
Kent State University, OH - Michael Battista and Olaf Stackelberg, Leaders
State University of New York at Stony Brook- Kathy Ivey and Alan Tucker, Leaders

For preparing future middle school teachers:

Appalachian State University, Boone, NC - Holly Hirst
and David Royster, Leaders
Bowling Green State University, OH - Thomas Hern and Barbara Moses, Leaders

For preparing future high school teachers:

University of San Diego, CA- Magnhild Lien
and Perla Myers, Leaders
State University of New York at Oswego - Jack Narayan and Stephen West, Leaders


PMET National Advisory Committee

Richard Askey, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Emeritus)
Richelle M. Blair, Lakeland Community College (Emeritus)
Ronald L. Graham, University of California at San Diego
Kati Haycock, The Education Trust
Jeremy Kilpatrick, University of Georgia
Dale R. Oliver, Humboldt State University
Richard Schaar, Texas Instruments
Richard L. Scheaffer, University of Florida (Emeritus)
Annie Selden, Tennessee Technological University (Emeritus)
Tina H. Straley, Mathematical Association of America
Zalman Usiskin, University of Chicago
Irvin E. Vance, Michigan State University
Hung-Hsi Wu, University of California at Berkeley

PMET Workshops Advisory Committee

Richard Bayne, Howard University
Douglas H. Clements, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Chris Franklin, University of Georgia
A. Susan Gay, University of Kansas
Deborah Schifter, Educational Development Center


PMET Needs Your Help

PMET includes an effort to gather and organize material providing examples of specific mathematics concepts that arise naturally in K-12 teaching but are not well treated in the undergraduate programs for teachers and are difficult for pre-service or in-service teachers. Send examples to Ed Dubinsky (

The PMET website includes a selected annotated bibliography on PMET-related issues as well as a calendar of PMET-related meetings. The site will also provide links to or post information about resource materials on the mathematical education of teachers. Such information includes textbooks, reviews of textbooks, supplementary curricular materials, innovative teacher education projects or programs, and professional meetings. Suggestions for such links or posting should be sent to the PMET project office (


News Date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2003