Program in Mathematics Education – Featured Graduate Student Post

Grad Post.jpgI’m in the spotlight on my program website this week:

The page address is:

Eryn Stehr arrived at MSU to pursue a doctoral degree in Mathematics Education starting with the Fall Semester of 2011. Her research interests focus primarily on “supporting teachers’ professional decision-making about their use of technology to support their mathematics teaching and learning.”

Eryn began her journey in higher education by attending Utah State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Upon her graduation from Utah State University, Eryn continued her studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato receiving her master’s degree in mathematics.

Eryn Stehr With StatueWith two degrees under her belt, Eryn applied for – and received – a fixed-term position as a mathematics instructor at her alma mater, Minnesota State University, Mankato. In addition to serving as a mathematics instructor, Eryn also volunteered as a math coach at an elementary school.

Now, as a member of the PRIME program, Eryn spends nearly all of her time concentrating on her studies and working on her dissertation, which focuses on technology in the mathematics classroom. Specifically, Eryn will cover multiple dimensions of technology in the mathematics classroom, including:

– “Teachers’ conceptions about the nature of mathematics, the nature of mathematics teaching and learning, and the role of technology in supporting mathematics teaching and learning”

– “Teachers’ attention to features of mathematics-focused digital tools and resources”

– “Potential relationships between teachers’ conceptions and what teachers notice about digital tools and resources.”

Eryn Stehr Apple OrchardWhen Eryn allows herself some down time from studying and working on her dissertation, she indulges in walking, watching Netflix, and reading. In addition to these hobbies, Eryn is earnestly working on developing new hobbies such as playing the piano, cross-stitching, and genealogy. Accompanying her in many of her hobbies is her 15-year-old cat, Pell.

Upon graduation from the PRIME program, Eryn is hoping to work at a university close to her parents and family so she can balance her personal and professional lives.

Written by JJ Thomas

When they take the post down some day, here is the PDF version of the post: Graduate Student Post_ Eryn Stehr – Program in Mathematics Education


“Technology and Noticing” – Psychology of Mathematics Education – North American Chapter

PMENA 2015 - Noticing and Technology - Final

I had a great time at PMENA-37 this past weekend! What a supportive, engaging, and productive space for learning about mathematics education – rather, immersing oneself into the mathematics education community.

Friday afternoon, I presented my poster, “Digital resources in mathematics: Teachersconceptions and noticing” and I learned a lot through conversations I had with visitors to my poster. You can read the overview of this poster in PMENA-37 Proceedings (p. 1256).

This poster represents a moment in time in my dissertation study. I am beginning to look at what teachers notice (or paid attention to, or found important) in online tools and resources by first considering how they responded in our pre- and post-evaluations in the online master’s-level course “Learning Mathematics with Technology.” We (the instructor and I, as a teaching assistant) gave students a broad prompt:

Assume you are considering using these tech tools in your teaching. Evaluate the three tools to decide whether you would recommend using them. Write an evaluation of the three tech tools for an audience of other teachers who might be considering using them.  Make your recommendation clear: which (if any) would you recommend? Argue your position. You will need to decide which elements, features, or characteristics of each tech tool to use in supporting your argument.

I considered the teachers in my study who chose the addition set of tools, and as I read and re-read their evaluations I created a list of tool features that the teachers paid attention to: Purpose of tool; Classroom use; Understanding (e.g., instrumental, relational); Thinking (e.g., critical, level); Engaging / Aesthetically pleasing / Distractions; Directions and Instructions; Customizable; Progress / Tracking; Preparation; Age / Grade-level; Interaction / Manipulative; Feedback / Responsiveness; Ease of Use / Accessibility; Differentiation / Learning styles / Learning needs; CCSSM / Standards Alignment; Mathematical representation; Teacher Support / Resources; Breadth / Variation. These were too many for the poster, so I narrowed them down to 12, and sorted them according to whether they seemed to be general, pedagogical, or mathematical characteristics (but recognizing the overlap in the categories, similar to the TPACK framework):

  • General: Customizable; Engaging / Aesthetically pleasing; Ease of Use / Accessibility
  • Pedagogical: Differentiation / Learning styles/needs; Progress / Tracking; Feedback / Responsiveness; Teacher Support / Resources
  • Mathematical: Mathematical Purpose; Standards Alignment; Understanding / Thinking; Interaction / Manipulative; Mathematical representation

In the tables, I noted whether teachers mentioned a particular characteristic was included or favorable included in the tool (Y), was not included or included in an unfavorable way (N), and whether the teacher did not mention a characteristic (–). Because of the limited space of the poster, I chose three mathematical features to show teacher comments about: Mathematical purpose, Understanding / Thinking, and Interaction / Manipulative. I included comments for each tool from each teacher in the pre-evaluation (left) and the post-evaluation (right).

Discussion of Results (which are shown in the poster above)

It goes without saying that the online tool itself seemed to impact the features that teachers paid attention to and I had chosen the three tools to be different in (hopefully) interesting ways. One tool is built around a ten-frame representation of addition, and includes a symbolic representation (horizontal addition statements). One tool is a quizzing software that includes a symbolic representation (horizontal statement) of addition only. One tool is built around a base-10 blocks representation of addition, and includes a symbolic representation (vertical addition statement). The tools differ in a number of ways and the teachers noticed many of their differences. There is evidence that teachers moved, not just to noticing more characteristics, but also to more profound noticing by the end of the course.

One interesting result was the teachers’ attention to thinking and understanding in the Math Trainer applet. In the pre-evaluation, none of the four teachers commented on opportunities for students to think or develop understanding. In the post-evaluation, all four teachers commented on Math Trainer’s support of instrumental understanding (we read Skemp (1976) early in the course), and on the lack of opportunities to “explore or gain a deeper understanding,” or for “critical thinking.”

Another interesting result is the change in Nicole’s use of words from the pre-evaluation to post-evaluation in her description of the mathematical purpose of each tool. She did not change words at all in her description of Math Trainer’s purpose “to practice math facts,” but changed from practice to explore for NCTM Illuminations: Ten Frame Addition and NLVM: Base Blocks Addition. Her description of the purpose of NCTM Illuminations: Ten Frame Addition in the pre-evaluation was “to practice using a 10-frame to work with numbers” and in the post-evaluation was “to work with a ten-frame (or five-frame option) to explore addition and subtraction of whole numbers.” For NLVM: Base Blocks Addition, she wrote “to practice addition with base-ten blocks” in her pre-evaluation and “to explore addition with base-ten blocks” in her post-evaluation.

PMENA 2015 – Noticing and Technology – Final (pdf of poster)

PMENA 2015 Proceedings – Noticing and Technology (pdf of proceedings paper)

PMENA – November, 2015


I’m excited to participate in PMENA this weekend – very conveniently held at my school, Michigan State University. I have helped out the Local Organizing Committee, but mainly I have enjoyed watching the “behind the scenes” action. Led by Drs. Tonya Bartell and Kristen Bieda, we have worked hard for about a year and a half. I’m excited to see the end result!

I will be participating as a presenter on a brief research report and three posters:

  • Friday, November 6, 9:20 AM – 10:00 AM (Kellogg: Conference 62)  Assessing Teacher Knowledge and Practice
    • Mathematical Knowledge for Teachers: Opportunities to Learn to Teach Algebra in Teacher Education Programs
      Presenters: Eryn M. Stehr, Jeffrey Craig, Hyunyi Jung, Leonardo Medel, Alexia Mintos, Jill Newton
  • Friday, November 6, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM (Kellogg: Lincoln)  First Poster Session
    • Digital Resources in Mathematics: Teachers’ Conceptions and Noticing
      Presenter: Eryn M. Stehr
    • Building Algebra Connections in Teacher Education 
      Presenters: Hyunyi Jung, Jill Newton, Eryn M. Stehr, Sharon Senk
  • Saturday, November 7, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM (Kellogg: Lincoln) Second Poster Session
    • Secondary Preservice Teachers’ Opportunities to Learn About Modeling in Algebra
      Presenters: Hyunyi Jung, Eryn M. Stehr, Sharon Senk, Jia He, Leonardo Medel