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Course Descriptions

For additional information about specific courses, please refer to the MSU Undergraduate Catalog at
Students who want to explore teaching careers become familiar with lesson plan development by writing, teaching, and observing lessons in an elementary school class. While students build and practice inquiry-based lesson design skills, they also become familiar with and practice classroom management in the elementary school setting. As a result of the Step 1 experiences, students are able to decide to continue to explore teaching as a career by registering for Step 2 and, ultimately, the remainder of the MSUTeach curriculum leading to teacher certification.
In Step 2, students who want to explore teaching careers become familiar with the middle school setting by observing and discussing the middle school environment, and by teaching lessons to middle school students. Step 2 students, generally team-teaching with a partner, are assigned to either a mathematics or science Mentor Teacher in a local middle school to observe two classes, observe one half day and then teach three inquiry-based lessons.
Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science is intended to focus on knowing and learning in secondary mathematics and science as understood from a multidisciplinary perspective. This course is not simply a general survey of theories. Instead, the primary goal is to provide students with the opportunity to identify theories and employ these theories to guide their own practice. MSUTeach is committed to the idea that practice and theory build on each other. Any teaching practice is guided by some theory of how people learn. If students are not aware of this, they are likely to adopt teaching practices without considering the full implications of theory behind them. MSUTeach wants its students to be thoughtful and reflective practitioners.
Many math and science students are surprised to learn that math and science have a history at all; so far as they know, math and science have simply been handed down in textbooks. To discover instead, that science and mathematics have advanced by the struggles of diverse people, on the basis of often-conflicting criteria and interests, can be mind-boggling to students. Students have studied extensively the methods of science and math, but by studying the history of these fields they learn how such approaches were originally developed, contested, and accepted. They also get a sense of how such approaches will continue to evolve. In this way, the Perspectives course aims to foster an understanding that science and mathematics are not finished or set in stone.
Classroom Interaction is centered on a close examination of the interplay between teachers, students, content, and the world beyond schools, and how such interactions enable students to develop deep conceptual understanding. You will learn how content and pedagogy combine to make effective teaching. You will design and implement instructional activities informed by your own understanding of what it means to know and learn mathematics and science, and then evaluate the outcomes of those activities on the basis of student artifacts (i.e., what students say, do, or create).
Students will engage in lab-based activities designed to strengthen and expand knowledge of the topics in secondary mathematics, focusing especially on topics from precalculus and the transition to calculus. Students will explore a variety of contexts that can be modeled using families of functions, including linear, exponential, polynomial and trigonometric functions. Topics involving conic sections, parametric equations and polar equations will be included. Explorations will involve the use of multiple representations, transformations, data analysis techniques (such as curve fitting) and interconnections among geometry, probability and algebra. Most labs will include significant use of various technologies, including computers, calculators and multimedia materials. The use of quantitative approaches (for example to rate of change, limits and accumulation) and building relationships between discrete and continuous reasoning will be recurrent themes.
Project-Based Instruction is based on the premise that project-based instruction engages learners in exploring authentic, important, and meaningful questions of real concern to secondary students. Project-based instruction promotes equitable and diverse participation and engages high school students in learning. They learn fundamental science and mathematical concepts and principles that they can apply to their daily lives.
Research Methods is designed to provide MSUTeach students with the tools that scientists use to solve scientific problems and make scientific presentations. Topics in the course include experimental design, instrument calibration, data analysis, laboratory safety, and the use of human subjects. Data analysis techniques discussed in the course include mathematical modeling of data, such as function fitting, and basic statistical analysis including standard error, the meaning of p-values, and hypothesis-testing. Students will design and conduct four different scientific inquiries and present the results of these in both written and oral formats.
Apprentice Teaching course is a culminating experience for MSUTeach students that provides them with the tools needed for their first teaching position. In Apprentice Teaching, students are immersed in the expectations, processes, and rewards of teaching. Apprentice Teaching is comprised of teaching in local public secondary schools and a weekly seminar, which brings apprentice teachers together with university master teachers to share experiences and work on solutions to problems they encounter in the field.