EDC Designs, Studies Program to Support Math Teachers in Improving Outcomes for English Learners

Photo of Mark Driscoll

With an award from the National Science Foundation, EDC is developing and studying a blended-learning professional development program that will address the critical need to support middle-grades mathematics teachers in enhancing English learners' mathematics learning and promoting their college and career readiness. Led by Principal Investigator Mark Driscoll (at left) and co-Principal Investigators Pam Buffington and Johannah Nikula (below), Visual Access to Mathematics (VAM) builds on EDC's longstanding and innovative work to close opportunity gaps for English learners (read a related blog post and news story). The team is investigating the supports that teachers of English learners 
need to provide their students with access to mathematical learning, while advancing their academic language development. Key components of the project include engaging teachers in Maine and Massachusetts in designing the professional development and conducting a small-scale cluster randomized controlled trial of the program.

(Pam Buffington at left; Johannah Nikula at right.)

VAM's approach is grounded in the use of visual representations, such as diagrams and geometric drawings for mathematical problem-solving, with integrated language support strategies.
 Driscoll said, "By relying heavily on technology-supported artifacts of 
student thinking, we believe that VAM will help mathematics teachers of English learners become better at making, using, and analyzing visual representations for mathematical problem solving—preparing them to engage and support their students in using the same processes."

Last Updated: October 2016