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About the Mathematics Education Doctoral Program

doctoral students from the mathematics education program pose happily during a conference

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The School of Education at Virginia Tech offers a doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis in Mathematics Education. Our program at Virginia Tech unites faculty and students from the College of Science's Mathematics Department and the School of Education. Our research focuses on understanding how students learn mathematics, which informs curriculum design, teaching practices, and assessment instruments. We seek to establish equitable learning environments that take advantage of current research and technology.

The Mathematics Education Doctoral Program is primarily designed to prepare researchers and higher education faculty. The possible career paths could be but not limited to faculty positions in post-secondary education and for leadership positions in secondary education.

an ipad sits atop a pile of books

WHAT YOU'LL STUDY

The Mathematics Education Doctoral Program focuses on original research, preparing students for research and teaching in a context that is rigorous, collegial, and cooperative. 

Students enrolled in the doctoral program must pass four exams and submit a dissertation as part of the degree requirements.

  • Qualifying Exam
  • Preliminary Exam
  • Prospectus
  • Final Examination

Plan of Study

Doctoral candidates will work closely with their advisor to craft a Plan of Study. The Plan of Study for Mathematics Education doctoral students must include the following minimum requirements:

  • Concentration: 24+ hours
  • Research Methods: 18+ hours
  • Foundations: 12+ hours
  • Content: 6+ hours
  • Research & Dissertation 30+ credit hours

Concentration (24+ credit hours):

Mathematics Courses

  • MATH 5624: Research on Mathematical Knowing & Learning
  • MATH 5634: Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education

Education Courses

  • EDCI 5734: Graduate Seminar: Critical Analysis of Mathematics Education Research
  • EDCI 5714: Graduate Seminar: Advanced Topics in Mathematics Education

Additional Curriculum & Instruction courses (EDCI courses) will be decided on in consultation with your advisor. Past favorites have been:

  • EDCI 5784: Graduate Seminar: Exploring Teacher Education Curriculum
  • EDCI 5804: STEM Education Foundations
  • EDCI 5814: STEM Education Pedagogy
  • EDCI 5824: STEM Education Trends & Issues

Research (18+ credit hours)

Required

  • EDRE 6605: Quantitative Research Methods in Education I
  • EDRE 6606: Quantitative Research Methods in Education II
  • EDRE 6504: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research I
  • EDRE 6524: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research II

Additional courses in Educational Research (EDRE courses) will be decided upon in consultation with your advisor. Past favorites have been:

  • EDRE 5404: Foundations of Educational Research and Evaluation
  • EDRE 5674: Introduction to Mixed Methods
  • EDRE 6634/STAT 6634: Advanced Statistics for Education
  • EDRE 6654: Multivariate Statistics for Applications to Educational Problems
  • EDRE 6694: Hierarchical Linear Modeling
           

Foundations (12+ credit hours)

Required

  • EDEP 5114: Learning and Cognition
  • EDEP 6224: Constructivism and Education

Additional courses in Foundations will be decided upon in consultation with your advisor. Past favorites have been:

  • EDCI 5104: Schooling in American Society
  • EDCI 6024: Analysis of Educational Concepts
  • EDEP 6114: Cognitive Processes
  • EDEP 6444: Motivation and Cognition
  • There are others; check online in the EDIT (Instructional Design & Technology), EDEP (Educational Psychology), and EDCI (Curriculum & Instruction) sections of the graduate catalog.

Mathematical Content Courses (6+ credit hours) Courses in Mathematics (MATH) or Statistics (STAT) will be decided upon in consultation with your advisor. Past favorites have been:

  • MATH 4625: Mathematics for Secondary Teachers I
  • MATH 4626: Mathematics for Secondary Teachers II
  • MATH 4644: Secondary School Mathematics with Technology

DISSERTATION

The Ph.D. degree in Mathematics Education is not awarded solely on the basis of coursework completion. To graduate, each student must also conduct an original research study culminating in the presentation and defense of a dissertation. The dissertation demonstrates the student’s ability to investigate a practical issue in mathematics education agreed upon by one’s dissertation chair and advisory committee. 

The majority of students write their dissertations in the traditional five-chapter format (i.e., as a research paper with an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and conclusion).  Other options such as a journal article dissertation are available.  Students work with the dissertation chairs and committees to determine the best format for their dissertation.

Course Descriptions

A study of the people and forces that impact on American education, analyzing the social setting of schooling and the relationships among school, curriculum, clients, personnel, and culture.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Close examination of a discipline, topic, or group of questions in mathematics education. Examples include construction of number, teaching and learning of probability and statistics, understanding quantitative literacy. Explore current research, different conceptions and construction of knowledge on topic. Data collection and analysis on topic. May be repeated three times with different content for a maximum of twelve credits. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Classical, seminal, and current works in the field of mathematics education. Mathematics education research. Theoretical frameworks, methodologies, claims and implications. Pre: Graduate Standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Provides an introduction to the nature of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and their corresponding STEM education disciplines; the inherent connections, confluences, and differences among the STEM and STEM education disciplines; the frameworks, standards, and infrastructures that govern the teaching of these subjects in K-16 STEM education; and other social, political, theoretical, and philosophical ideas and influences that underlie K-16 STEM education. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Provides an ordered investigation into the instructional practices and signature pedagogies of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines as a means for developing purposefully integrative approaches for teaching/learning the content of these disciplines. Through study of the epistemologies, philosophies, strengths, and limitations associated with STEM signature pedagogies, students come to know a set of blended pedagogical practices that serve to enhance individual practices within their chosen fields. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

An exploration of contemporary K-16 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education trends and issues, including both integrative and within-discipline STEM education trends/issues. Topics addressed include STEM literacy, integrative approaches to STEM education, the changing role of design and inquiry in STEM education, STEM education-related legislation, change theory, state and federal funding, and extracurricular STEM education initiatives. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Systematic introduction to the study of contemporary philosophy of education, indicating ways in which philosophy is used to analyze educational aims, content, methods, and values.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s):

Level: Graduate

Research and evaluation in education with emphasis on development of skill requisite for utilizing research and evaluation studies in practical situations. Applies these skills in exercises related to various research and evaluation models.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Introduction to Mixed Methods research and evaluation in applied social and behavioral sciences, including education, human development, sociology, and medicine. Mixed methods are used to collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

This course provides an introduction to qualitative research methods. It considers mainstream qualitative research traditions, including case study, phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, and participatory research. Students will conduct observations, interviews and basic data analysis.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

This course provides an advanced examination of qualitative inquiry in educational and human science research. It considers theoretical assumptions of major qualitative research traditions and provides students advanced skills in data analysis and representation.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

This two-course sequence is designed to provide an overview of basic research design, measurement and statistical concepts in social and behavioral research. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the process of social and educational research in field settings, hands on experience of designing and conducting research and analysis of data.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

This two-course sequence is designed to provide an overview of basic research design, measurement and statistical concepts in social and behavioral research. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the process of social and educational research in field settings, hands on experience of designing and conducting research and analysis of data.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Multiple regression procedures for analyzing data as applied in educational settings, including curvilinear regressions, dummy variables, multicollinearity, and introduction to path analysis.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Multivariate statistical procedures presented in an applied research setting. Oriented toward the logical extension of univariate tests of significance and estimation procedures to multivariate problems. Emphasis on using existing computer software packages.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Provides a conceptual framework of hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), some important statistical theory behind the HLM, and hands-on training for applying HLM technique through analyzing example data sets and projects. The course includes the formulation of statistical models for typical applications such as two-level organizational study, two-level growth model, and three-level growth model within contexts and prepares students to be able to use multilevel analysis to address research questions in their fields and write coherent summaries and interpretations of the results.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Psychological theories and models which serve as a basis for educational models and practice. Emphasis on conceptions of learning and cognitive process. Pre: Graduate standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Investigates complex human learning from the perspective of cognitive/information processing theories. Emphasizes methods of investigation in cognitive science as well as strategies for using a cognitive orientation in educational settings.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Philosophical, theoretical, and empirical foundations of the broad field of constructivism, including the limits of epistemology and ontology, the determination of truth and reality, and applications to education and everyday life. Emphasis on radical constructivism, social constructivism, symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, and cognitive constructivism, and their applications to education.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Explores current research in the field of motivation as it relates to educational settings. Students will learn how motivation constructs relate to student behavior and cognition, how to select appropriate strategies to motivate students, and how to design measures to assess student motivation.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Methods for conducting scientific research on how K-12 students learn mathematics. Students will develop skills for designing and conducting such research across various domains of mathematical learning, such as whole numbers, fractions, algebra, and calculus. Pre: Graduate Standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Research on undergraduate mathematics education. Student understanding of particular concepts from undergraduate math courses, from calculus to abstract algebra. Student engagement in mathematical practices, such as proving and defining, that transcend particular course concepts. Pre: Graduate Standing.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Course activities will emphasize the curricular themes of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation. 4625: Topics in discrete mathematics and algebra from a secondary teaching perspective. Pre: 3034. (3H,3C)

Course activities will emphasize the curricular themes of problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation. 4626: Topics in trigonometry, geometry, measurement, statistics, and probability from a secondary teaching perspective. Pre: 3034. (3H,3C)

Use and impact of technology in secondary mathematics curriculum. Various technologies including graphing calculators, calculator based laboratory and probes (CBLs), computer algebra systems, spreadsheets, dynamic geometry software and the Internet will be used to explore secondary mathematical concepts from an advanced viewpoint. Pre: 3034. (3H,3C)

Math education faculty and students regularly engage in research and scholarship, including engagement with the following organizations: