Purdue University Fort Wayne has been recognized as one of the best universities in the country by the National Council on Teacher Quality in preparing future elementary educators to teach math. PFW is one of only 79 universities in the country to earn “exemplar” distinction. Isabel Nuñez, dean of the PFW School of Education, says the university has been lucky with the strength of its math education faculty.
Nuñez discussed what she thinks helped PFW earn the designation in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“We have three full semesters of content courses for elementary teachers. Most universities will have two content courses as well as a methods class,” she said. “And these classes are not just about the what and the how to do math; they really do emphasize deep conceptional understanding.”
The NCTQ evaluates core requirements and practices of more than 1,100 elementary education programs, according to the university.
The council’s report found PFW met 100% of the instructional goals across each of the elementary mathematics topic areas, including numbers and operations, algebraic thinking, geometry and measurement, data analysis and probability, and math pedagogy.
The university has also created an active learning classroom specifically for elementary math, which Nuñez says has been key.
“This classroom allows for collaborative learning both while students are in the physical space, but also when someone needs to join virtually,” she said. “So there are individual projectors and document cameras and stations at each table that will allow for this collaboration, and it was absolutely perfect for the pandemic. The whole campus had to kind of scramble to go online, but they were prepared in elementary math ed.”
Nuñez says having such a highly-regarded program is critical for the region that is looking to attract and retain top talent.
“If all elementary educators are prepared at a very high level to teach math, then the entire region benefits. We also have the distinction of being the very first institution in Indiana to be approved to offer the Elementary STEM specialist licensure; this is a brand new licensure. We’ll have the first graduates in our program in May, and they will be elementary STEM specialist teachers.”
You can learn more about the NCTQ’s report by clicking here.