While a new study reported that most elementary education programs in the nation were failing to adequately prepare their graduates to teach mathematics, UGA’s math education program not only made the grade, but was the lone example cited as an “exemplary” program.
Only nine other education colleges out of 77 studied earned a minimum passing score, according to the June 2008 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which studied entrance and exit requirements, course syllabi, textbooks and state licensing tests.
UGA stands out because the program has stringent requirements and stresses the importance of conceptual knowledge, according to Denise Mewborn, professor and chair of the College of Education’s department of mathematics and science education.
“The big emphasis for the past 10 to 15 years has been on developing conceptual understanding in children, not just teaching them procedures, rule without reason,” said Mewborn. “Getting them to understand why these things work so they’re not just playing Russian roulette.”
Prospective elementary education students at UGA are required to take three content and two methods courses, while many schools only require one method and two content courses.
Mewborn also pointed to the close relationship between the elementary math education program and the UGA mathematics department in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences as another reason why the program excels in preparing teachers for the classroom.
Admission to the program is extremely competitive. About 120 students earn degrees in elementary education from UGA every year.