School of Teacher Education professor prepares for teaching and research abroad
- Jessica Basham, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
- Tuesday, May 24th, 2022
Dr. Janet Hagemeyer Tassell, a professor with the School of Teacher Education in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, will spend a semester in the Czech Republic teaching and researching mathematics teaching approaches thanks to a Fulbright grant from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Tassell will spend most of her time at Charles University in Prague, although she will travel throughout the country to other universities and schools.
“Through the Fulbright project, Mindfulness Teaching Practices in Mathematics, for the Fall 2022 semester, I will continue the work of a WKU internally grant-funded seminar-structured study (co-director Dr. Natasha Gerstenschlager) working with teacher candidates to apply mindfulness practices in mathematics instruction, through a combined approach of improving math self-efficacy, strengthening a growth mindset and lessening math anxiety,” Tassell explained. “I will establish a relationship from which to learn the country’s educational structure and to form potential student teaching placements for WKU’s teacher candidates in Czech Republic for part of their practicum/internship.”
Tassell started this research after noticing her students were anxious about teaching math. “I teach Elementary Math Methods, which is the semester prior to student teaching. In talking with Dr. Gerstenschlager (WKU Mathematics Dept.), we realized we had similar interests in studying this area of research. Through the RCAP grant, we designed a seminar series for the participants to learn about mindfulness practices personally to also use as teachers with their students. We incorporated growth mindset, lowering mathematics anxiety, and increasing mathematics self-efficacy through deepening math content knowledge. We had a control group as well for those not participating in the seminar series.”
Tassell explained that this research will have a wide impact on the education field, which is why it is so important. “With the climbing teacher exodus crisis (55% of teachers are looking for an exit from the teaching profession) (Kamenetz, 2022), higher education needs to immediately focus on how to support teachers to stay in the profession and remain mentally healthy. When coupling the threat of this exodus with teacher preparation and needed support, innovation is imperative more now than ever before. A sense of urgency is impacting teacher preparation programs: Teacher educators need to know how to better prepare K-12 students to be not only college-ready, but also to develop interest in and be prepared to pursue STEM majors. Issues with mathematics self-efficacy, mathematics achievement, and their relationship to pursuit of S.T.E.M. majors is in jeopardy right now considering the massive teacher shortage, especially in mathematics, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic (Gecker, 2021). Therefore, investigation of successful approaches to mathematics education in other countries is of paramount importance. With US schools experiencing varying degrees of non-traditional instruction through the impact of the pandemic, K-12 students are continuing to experience a lag in the most effective education.”
Tassell had help from her coworkers and peers at WKU to start this research and receive the Fulbright grant. She expressed, “I am so thankful for the incredible collaboration I have had in this adventure with Dr. Natasha Gerstenschlager, Associate Professor, Mathematics Education. She is such a brilliant researcher, creative thinker and excellent writer. I am also thankful for Dr. Savannah Denning for contributing to the seminar design and Dr. Antonia Szymanski for help with analyzing our quantitative data. I am very grateful for those individuals who helped me in designing/drafting my proposal and writing letters of support: Dr. Jenni Redifer, Dr. Addie Chaney, Dr. Kay Gandy, Dr. Roger Murphy, Dr. Susan Keesey, Dr. Tony Harkins, and Dr. Viktor Freiman.”
For more information about the School of Teacher Education, go to wku.edu/cebs/ste. For more information on Tassell’s Fulbright grant, to gohttps://www.wku.edu/news/articles/index.php?view=article&articleid=10494.