Those participants who did both weeks of the workshop did a pre-test on the first day and a post-test on the last day. The test was divided into two parts. Part 1 was created by the Learning Mathematics for Teaching project, and is designed to assess the math content knowledge especially important for effective teaching. Part 2 was created by the Vermont Mathematics Initiative, and focuses on computational fluency. The 16 participants who took both the pre- and post-test showed statistically significant improvement on both parts of the test, providing quantitative evidence that PMI is accomplishing its goals.
At the end of the second week, participants are also asked to fill out evaluations describing their experience. These comments also demonstrate the value of the PMI program in providing a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. One participant wrote: “I don’t think there could have been a better class or course to help me prepare for teaching fifth grade math for the first time. I now have a better understanding of how to help build the students’ math foundations up conceptually, rather than just teaching them procedures to memorize. I am going to try to implement more meaningful questions in my classroom that will help the students to become better problem solvers.”
Teachers also left the workshop feeling more empowered in math instruction. One 2014 participant noted, “I have begun to examine things from a more open perspective and have been challenged to think in more creative ways. I have also started to view my textbook materials, asking myself, ‘How can I adapt this to challenge more creative thinking and explanation?’”
Even the methods of instruction proved valuable, as one 2014 participant noted “All week all three of [the instructors] modeled how our classrooms should be by how [they] worked with us and assisted us through math activities – priceless! [They] didn’t tell and show, [they] pushed our understanding by [their] techniques.” Perhaps the best summary is the following: “The overall value of PMI was very high. Although applying some of the math concepts was a tremendous struggle, I have no regrets about investing two weeks of my summer vacation to the workshop.”