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Harper Awarded the 2020 NTLI Fellowship

Frances Harper PhotoThe PRIME community would like to recognize program alumna Frances Harper, who was awarded, along with two doctoral-student co-authors, the National Technology Leadership Initiative (NTLI) fellowship from the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) for their manuscript When Robots Invade the Neighborhood: Learning to Teach PK-5 Mathematics Leveraging Both Technology and Community Knowledge.

The Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) established the NTLI fellowships to acknowledge excellent conference presentations related to integration of technology in the content areas of mathematics, science, English language arts, and social studies education. The fellowship awards travel funding for further presentation/publication in the SITE Annual Conference proceedings. A version of the paper was submitted to the SITE journal for review, and Frances noted that it has been accepted pending minor revisions.

In the paper, Harper and her colleagues, Zachary Stumbo and Nicholas Kim, explored how prospective elementary teachers developed their mathematics teaching in their mathematics methods course while creating mathematics lessons that leverages community and cultural funds of knowledge along with robotics to implement STEM activities. Frances mentioned that this came about organically during her instruction of the elementary mathematics methods course after she had partnered with some local preschools and elementary schools and the Eastern Tennessee STEM Hub to create a community-engaged course assignment.

Robots entered the picture after she used a small internal grant to purchase robots along with other STEM education materials. She said she “experienced how much fun these tools can be and how engaging they are for children and teachers”. Her co-author, Zachary Stumbo, and she noticed how the groups who used robots also seemed to find more meaningful ways to incorporate community funds of knowledge, thus prompting the study.

Frances stated that the most interesting outcome of this work were the insights they gained about “how prospective teachers brought together mathematics, funds of knowledge, and robotics in one lesson”. She thought that perhaps the teachers, experiencing a kind of lesson so different from their typical experiences with mathematics, may have been more “open to more ‘outside the box’ math lessons”, and they are currently exploring that idea further.

Frances mentioned feeling excited and encouraged that others found this work interesting and important, especially since she is beginning an NSF-funded project in January, 2021 which will explore “how integrating robotics into a STEM project-based preschool curriculum and at-home STEM activities supports Black and Latinx children to develop a sense of belonging in STEM”.

From all of us at the PRIME community, congratulations Frances! We are excited to celebrate this accomplishment with you!

Frances Harper is a 2017 graduate of the mathematics education doctoral program and is currently an assistant professor of STEM (Mathematics) education at the University of Tennessee.

Written by

Kevin Voogt