Guiding Principles, History & Highlights
Principle 1: Teachers benefit from active and contextual learning.
The MSMME program provides opportunities for teachers to try out ideas in their own classrooms. Their students become a source of data for investigations and applications ranging from learning theory to mathematical modeling. To varying degrees, MSMME courses include the following experiences:
- Classroom Experiments are short-term assignments that engage teachers and their students in exploring new mathematics content, teaching strategies, or theory.
- Living Laboratory projects are embedded in each pedagogy course and become part of the program portfolio. Teachers may research and investigate a key issue; experiment and report results regarding a strategy; model and reflect on a scenario through simulation or role play; or otherwise engage in applied professional learning.
- Action Research provides an opportunity to more formally develop a question about teaching, design an intervention, collect and analyze data, and reflect on results and next steps.
Principle 2: Teachers benefit from reflection and similar metacognitive processes.
Throughout the MSMME program, teachers will build a portfolio of work representing their progress through the curriculum. A formative self-assessment in the form of a written reflection is created for each course in the program. Each course reflection will include:
- A description of the Living Laboratory project (in the case of pedagogy courses) or the Signature Assignment (in the case of content courses), as well as the Action Research project if appropriate.
- A discussion of how the course supports the teacher's professional growth
- A clear connection to standards for content and practice as stated in the CCSS and PSSM (see below)
In preparation for completion of the MSMME program, teachers will prepare a summative self- assessment demonstrating a synthesis of knowledge gained from their coursework and applied experiences. This final reflection addresses mathematics standards, knowledge of mathematics content and practices, and teaching and learning mathematics, and provides evidence of growth in at least some of these areas. The summative reflection may take two forms:
- A formal paper addressing all of the components described above
- An electronic presentation (audio/video or audio with screen capture) in the form of a "TED Talk" supported by a written outline of key ideas.
Principle 3: Curriculum choices should be influenced by standards.
The MSMME program incorporates the standards and principles for K-12 mathematics adopted by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards will influence mathematics curriculum and assessment for the foreseeable future. The MSMME program addresses the standards and mathematical practices emphasized in the Common Core.
Principle 4: Curriculum should be focused and coherent.
The MSMME faculty believe that each course in the program should be solidly based on and clearly connected to current standards for content, practice, and professional growth. This is a work in progress as we continuously improve program offerings and requirements, revise course content, and collaboratively identify key content and objectives for each course.
History and Highlights
The Masters of Science in Mathematics - Mathematics Education Option (MSMME) is designed for teachers of secondary (high school) mathematics. The goals of MSMME include deepening participants' understanding of school mathematics, increasing their pedagogical content knowledge, and providing opportunities for personal reflection and professional growth. MSMME has served teachers in Montana and the Northwest region of the United States for nearly twenty-five years. In the last decade, a significant distance learning component combined with an on-campus summer institute have allowed us to offer this content-based degree to place-bound mathematics teachers across the nation.
MSMME is designed for teachers-in-service where they live and work. Equalizing access for all faculty is important for MSU's outreach mission and important for Montana, where distance traditionally has inhibited teachers in rural areas from pursuing advanced degrees.
The program was identified as unique and of high quality by the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP). It was added to the WRGP in 2000. This allows students from 15 Western states, including California, to complete the program at very affordable residential rates.
Up to nine semester hours of graduate credit earned at another institution, if approved, can be transferred into the program.
Most of the program can be completed off campus. At least two online courses are offered each semester, both academic year and summer.
On-campus summer courses are offered in an intensive three-week format to reduce expenses and time away from home.
When registered for MSU courses, students have access to a growing collection of on-line journals and other on-line library resources through the MSU Library.
Class size is kept to a maximum of 20 students. Numbers are usually in the 10-15 range, making student-professor interactions friendly and productive.
Students who wish to include coursework in science education as a "supporting area" can, with MSMME approval, apply credit hours of science education coursework toward the MSMME degree. Currently a wide variety of graduate level science education courses are offered in the distance learning format. See MSU's Master of Science in Science Education for more information.
Founded in 1893 as a Land Grant University, Montana State University (MSU) is composed of eight academic colleges and a graduate school and boasts a friendly, supportive faculty and campus environment. Currently, the University hosts an enrollment of over 14,000 students, including approximately 1,900 graduate students. MSU is classified as one of 108 U.S. Research Universities (very high research activity) by the Carnegie Foundation. With support from the Burns Technology Center and the Extended University, Montana State University has made the commitment to develop and sustain distance learning programs for place-bound teachers and other professionals.
MSU is located in Bozeman, Montana, an extended community of about 70,000 nestled in the Rocky Mountains in southwest Montana, 90 miles north of Yellowstone National Park. In addition to providing access to an extraordinary ecosystem for teaching and research programs, Bozeman is renowned for year-round recreational and cultural opportunities to include access to world class ski areas, multiple blue ribbon trout streams and the Gallatin National Forest. The local airport is served by four national airlines and is the second busiest airport in the state. Named an All American City, Bozeman boasts high-quality medical facilities, a very low crime rate, many fine restaurants, acclaimed public and private schools, and the kind of scenery and year-round recreational opportunities that make Montana one of this nation's "last best places."