Gaige Hall 355
Dr. Mary M. Sullivan, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
|Dr. Sullivan leading a |
Problem Solving workshop
Project: Problem Solving and Critical Thinking with Discrete Mathematics, Rhode Island Higher Education Partnership Grants, 2010 - 2012
Dr. Mary Sullivan is a dual-appointed Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science/Secondary Education and Director of the RI STEM Center at RIC, whose teaching and research encompass both mathematics and education. Dr. Sullivan was awarded a Title IIA Partnership Grant through the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education for a three-year professional development program to educate elementary school teachers in problem solving and critical thinking with discrete mathematics. RIC's Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Feinstein School of Education & Human Development, and RI STEM Center are partnering with Cranston Public Schools and the West Bay Collaborative on this project.
"Problem Solving and Critical Thinking with Discrete Mathematics" addresses the need for standards-based professional development in mathematics for K-8 teachers. The project, adapted from the nationally recognized Leadership Program in Discrete Mathematics (LPDM), has four central aims: (1) strengthen teachers' instructional strategies and mathematical content knowledge; (2) improve teachers' attitudes towards mathematics; (3) develop a lesson planning/study community among participants; and (4) help develop mathematics leadership capacity in partner districts. Participants learn mathematics by solving challenging problems and engaging in hands-on activities. Through grant-supported workshops, teachers develop, teach and refine problem solving lessons involving discrete mathematics into existing curricula that will be shared with other teachers. They also develop lesson modules for use in future professional development.
Dr. Sullivan is encouraged by connections the teachers make between the content they teach and the problems posed in workshops. Through teachers' engagement with mathematics, their teaching is enriched. This is reflected in gains in student achievement. Dr. Sullivan believes that it is important for RIC to work with in-service elementary and secondary teachers, noting, "I don't think the college's role should end when our teacher candidates graduate. Projects such as this show an institutional commitment to lifelong learning."