Evaluation of the Externship Within a Master's Degree Program for Mathematics Specialists at Virginia Tech

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this evaluation was to determine the effectiveness of an Externship as the capstone experience of a Master's degree program in preparing seventeen teachers to be Mathematics Specialists. This formative evaluation was based on the teacher's perspective and was naturalistic in design utilizing both qualitative and quantitative research methods. Data sources included a teacher survey, teacher interviews, writing prompts, teacher observations, and teacher final project presentations.

This evaluation was designed to answer the question: Do the teachers feel that the requirements of this Masters' Degree Externship have prepared them for their role as a Mathematics Specialist? The success and effectiveness of the Externship was tied directly to the teachers chosen school-based experiences which were designed based on a mathematics needs assessment of their schools. Teachers were found to be involved in all five of the essential components of an externship as outlined in the theoretical framework — application, collaboration, reflection, expectations, and the cohort structure. In addition, teachers were found to integrate their leadership and teaching skills through the engagement of their school colleagues in the improvement of educational experiences for all students. Overall, the teachers felt that the experiences throughout the Externship adequately prepared them for their roles of a mathematics specialist; working effectively with stakeholders; working with issues around curriculum and instruction; planning and delivering professional development; and working as leaders within their schools.

teacher leaders, mathematics specialists, externship