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K-State Today

January 23, 2012

Education faculty members receive research grants from university

Submitted by Patrice Scott

Two College of Education faculty members were each recently awarded University Small Research Grants, one for identifying misconceptions in math and the other for an international literacy project.

Sherri Martinie and Laurie Curtis, assistant professors in curriculum and instruction, were awarded $2,500 and $2,000 grants respectively.

Martinie’s grant supports her on-going investigative work titled “Battling Decimal Fraction Misconceptions," which involves identifying students’ misconceptions in math then administering intervention strategies. Students, she said, often use logic and other techniques to solve math problems, but the trick is catching when they misapply a technique. “If students do well enough, teachers don’t typically pay close enough attention, and students advance through the system because their misconceptions produce the right answers often enough.”

Martinie will use the grant funds to launch a pilot study in two Kansas classrooms. “It has to be small enough for us to have access to the school and deliver instruction,” she said. “Any data we collect will be beneficial.”

In contrast, Curtis’ project focuses on providing professional development opportunities in shared and guided reading for teachers in Grenada. She first provided this instruction in fall 2010, which came on the heels of Grenada’s teachers being trained as reading specialists after completing a USAID Caribbean Centre of Excellence in Teacher Training project. After returning to Grenada in fall 2011, she realized the annual fall trips indicated the need for more frequent instruction.

“While the teachers had certainly made progress, it became obvious that they would benefit from successive instruction,” Curtis said. “I will return in the spring to observe teacher practice and provide them with information on practical literacy assessments that will help focus instruction for their students. We will also determine what other professional development is needed and what resources and support I can provide. Most importantly, I will help facilitate an exchange between Reading Specialists in Kansas, K-State students and literacy teachers in Grenada to form a partnership where teachers can share ideas about best practices in literacy instruction.”

Curtis has been an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction since 2008 and teaches undergraduate and graduate literacy courses.

Martinie has taught elementary, secondary and high school math throughout her career and joined the faculty in August. 

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