The PhD program in Mathematics Education at UMass Dartmouth is the result of many years of research and development originally pioneered by Professor James Kaput. Its goals and mission are synergistic with the operation of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education, namely, to foster the spirit of innovation. It is this essence that we wish our doctoral students to be part of and learn from in their educational experience at UMass Dartmouth.
The program is offered by faculty in the Department of STEM Education & Teacher Development but capitalizes on the rich infrastructure of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education. By pairing the Department of STEM Education & Teacher Development and Kaput Center, the UMass Dartmouth Mathematics Education doctoral program is able to offer students access to resources, research projects and advisors in many authentic research situations ranging from local schools to higher education departments and other formal and informal learning settings.
The goals and purposes of the PhD program in Mathematics Education are firmly in line with the mission of the University: "The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional and global economic, social, and cultural development." It advances the university's mission by creating an environment to conduct research through collaboration with industry, research and academic institutions, and practitioners of innovative mathematics education research at the national and international level by utilizing best teaching practices in educating its students.
The vision statement for UMass Dartmouth includes an aspiration: "UMass Dartmouth aspires to create additional Masters and Doctoral programs, with commensurate support, in addition to enhanced technological capabilities for the delivery of our educational and outreach programs." In its doctoral emphasis, its research basis that brings substantial support, and its innovative interest in pedagogy and instructional methodology, the PhD program in Mathematics Education contributes substantively to accomplishing this vision. Furthermore, the educational approach of the program is founded in the high principles envisioned in the opening paragraph of the university's Vision Statement: "Within a climate that is inclusive, open, and diverse, UMass Dartmouth will be the university of choice for students seeking high quality liberal arts and science programs as well as professional academic programs that build a foundation for civic responsibility, individual skills, and professional success."
The primary purpose of the program is to produce stewards of the discipline, as defined by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in its Initiative on the Doctorate: "to educate and prepare those to whom we can entrust the vigor, quality, and integrity of the field." Moreover, its explicit interdisciplinary approach is intended to address specific challenges identified by the Carnegie Initiative (Walker, Golde, Jones et al., 2008). These challenges involve new technologies in "altering and accelerating the way new knowledge is shared and developed" (p. 2), a vision of a global marketplace for scholarship, and recognition that "much of the most important, path-breaking intellectual work going on today occurs in the borderlands between fields, blurring boundaries and challenging traditional disciplinary definitions" (p. 2). Our program pays particular attention to how curricular and research components can be integrated systematically to connect students' learning to faculty scholarship and thereby provide authentic learning experiences that produce graduates with strong research skills. We are guided by a metaphor of apprenticeship as a "theory of learning and a set of practices that are widely relevant" (p. 91); the activity of apprenticing encompasses and strengthens all curricular and research components of the program.
The PhD program in Mathematics Education is designed to embrace the future with scientific education as the sustaining foundation of what has been called the century of information and knowledge. Globally and nationally, we have the critical ability to transfuse scientific and technological developments into our educational realities. Heretofore lacking in technology-rich environments and teachers trained in effective pedagogies, today's school culture requires the gradual but deep re-orientation of its practices to gain access to powerful ideas of mathematics and to new habits of mind including exploring, modeling, handling of information, and the ability to systematize. It is possible to cultivate powerful ideas that generate different levels of mathematical thinking both at the level of the classroom and at the level of the global educational system, to create an open system responsive to the multidimensional influences of its social and cultural environment.