New MAT-math degree adds up to meet teaching need

One of Oswego’s newest degree programs—master of arts in teaching mathematics—will meet a pressing need for certified math teachers in the nation and region.

Approved this summer, the degree is an initial certification program to teach grades 7 through 12. Its curriculum can be completed within 15 months to send graduates into a hot job field.

According to the American Association for Employment in Education, among the greatest areas of demand in any certification area—both nationally and in the mid-Atlantic region—is for mathematics teachers in grades 7 through 12.

The ideal admissions cycle would involve accepting students in the spring to start in summer, said Joyce Smith of Oswego’s curriculum and instruction department.

“If they have all the requirements, they can do it in a summer, an academic year and another summer,” said Chris Baltus of Oswego’s mathematics department. It is designed for students entering with a bachelor’s in mathematics and meeting other requirements.

“The more common route has been to get your undergraduate degree in education, teach for a few years, then come back for your master’s degree,” he said. “This opens up another road. I think there are some students who will prefer this route, especially math majors who wait until their senior year to decide they want to teach.”

The full-time 48-hour program includes 12 credit hours in mathematics, 12 credits in general pedagogy (instruction methods), eight credits in math-specific pedagogy and 16 credit hours in field placement and student teaching—adding up to 100 hours of field placement and two supervised seven-week student-teaching sessions.

“The mathematics and curriculum and instruction departments really worked cooperatively on this,” Smith said. “Each department will have input on admission, too.”

Students in the program will have two advisers: one from mathematics, one from curriculum and instruction.

Because Oswego has no graduate program in mathematics, professors had to create courses to meet the requirements. “It was interesting and I think it’s going to make for a very strong program,” Baltus said.

For example, “Mathematics for All Learners in a Diverse Society” was created “to include the objectives of a diversity course, cross-cultural mathematics and pedagogical mathematics into one course,” he said. “I’m pretty pleased with that. I think it will be a good and interesting course.”

Smith added that the program’s graduates will have very strong content knowledge, experience with diversity and plenty of field experience before joining the world of full-time teaching.

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(Posted: Aug 22, 2007)