Society & Culture

UGA joins Mexico-U.S. higher education partnership to improve math, science pedagogy

UGA joins Mexico-U.S. higher education partnership to improve math, science pedagogy

Athens, Ga. – A group of five faculty administrators from two Mexican higher education institutes met recently with University of Georgia faculty and administrators over three days here to map out plans for an exchange program that will begin this summer.

The exchange will allow seven young faculty members from the two Mexican teacher education schools to enroll in UGA’s College of Education where they will spend the next two years completing their master’s degree in middle school education, with a focus on mathematics, science and English.

In turn, several UGA faculty members will deliver weeklong professional development workshops for teachers and teacher educators at Benemérita Escuela Normal Veracruzana (BENV) “Enrique C. Rébsamen” and the Universidad Pedagógica Veracruzana (UPV) in Mexico.

The exchange is part of the three-year Training Internship, Exchanges and Scholarship (TIES) program funded by a $300,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Higher Education for Development (HED) office, said Glenn C.W. Ames, director of UGA’s Office of International Public Service and Outreach.

Fifty-five higher education partnerships between universities in Mexico and the U.S. have been developed through TIES as of 2006, and more are expected. The exchanges focus on agriculture, communications technology, health and nutrition, and workforce and business development. UGA’s partnership is the only one focusing on teacher education.

The master’s program training will include teaching and research assistantships in teacher education and opportunities for structured practical internships in primary and secondary schools in Georgia with an emphasis on the latest pedagogy in math, science and English as a Second Language (ESOL) for the Mexican faculty during their studies in Georgia.

UGA faculty will conduct training programs and workshops for at least 50 practicing teachers from Veracruz’s 39 municipalities on improving math, science, and ESOL education in their rural communities. They will work to improve the research and theoretical basis for teacher preparation curriculum, instructional planning methodologies, practicum experiences, and program evaluation allowing the UPV and BENV to assure the quality of their graduates.

The new project is built on a relationship that UGA College of Education faculty members have been developing with UPV faculty for more than a decade. The Georgia-Veracruz Partnership, developed in 1992 by elementary education faculty members Jim McLaughlin and Martha Allexsaht-Snider, has led to hundreds of teacher exchanges and study abroad opportunities for UGA students.

Ames, who is directing the initiative at UGA, is assisted by Lisette Montoto, a graduate research assistant and doctoral student at UGA’s Institute of Higher Education. UGA College of Education faculty involved in the project and their departments include: Martha Allexsaht-Snider, associate professor, elementary and social studies education; Deborah Tippins, professor, math and science education/elementary and social studies education; Misha Cahnmann, assistant professor, language and literacy education; Dorothy White, associate professor, mathematics and science education; and Gayle Andrews, assistant professor, elementary and social studies education. David A. Knauft, co-principal investigator, professor, horticulture, will help the Mexican graduate students’ hands-on science lesson plans through Project FOCUS, which partners an elementary school teacher with a UGA science major to enhance learning about science.