University of Southern Indiana

Doris Mohr

Doris Mohr
Dr. Doris Mohr
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Coordinator of Mathematics Outreach
Contact: 812-464-1769
Science Center 3269

Service learning and teacher preparation are a natural fit. In my math methods class (M392), pre-service elementary and middle-school teachers often participate in a service-learning project focused on Family Math Night (FMN) at a local elementary school. Family Math Night is a single night event that involves elementary students, their parents and teachers, and my students in M392. It is a night focused on doing mathematics in the context of sports, games, or other real-world applications. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children in the activity, in the hopes that the mathematical discussions that began at FMN will continue at home. My students benefit from involvement in this service-learning project through:

  • Realization of the importance of parent involvement in schools
  • Reinforcement of tenets of Reflective Teacher Model
  • Insight into how children think and reason mathematically

Parent involvement in schools has been shown to promote better student attendance, less retention in the same grade, higher levels of parent and student satisfaction with school, and reduced number of negative behavior reports. Teachers, however, are often not prepared to implement family involvement programs. It is my hope that the students enrolled in my math methods class will take the experience gained from participation in FMN and support or implement a similar experience in the future at their own school.

From analyzing past reflections completed by my students, I found an alignment between their comments and the five knowledge bases of Teacher Education’s “Reflective Teacher Model”: (1) Knowledge of Self, (2) Knowledge of Students, (3) Knowledge of Schools, Communities, and Families, (4) Knowledge of Pedagogy, and (5) Knowledge of Curriculum. So not only are they gaining experience in how to involve parents, but they are reinforcing the five basic tenets of teacher education. For example, some of my students commented:

  • “As teachers, we must challenge ourselves and our students to look and think about math more creatively.”
  • “I noticed that some students were flying through our activity, while others were struggling. It really showed their performance level in mathematics.”
  • “I learned that to teach math, teachers need to understand what their students know before they give them tasks.”

Last, but certainly not least, my students gained insight into how children think mathematically. For example, one of my students commented: “I think that kids really enjoy when they get to participate in things and do hands on work. I also believe that the kids learn better and remember more if they can make a connection to something in real life.” Priceless!

Contact Marie Opatrny-Pease


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