Yong Receives NSF Grant in Support of Project TAU

Harvey Mudd College mathematics professor Darryl Yong ’96, together with Ilana Horn (Vanderbilt University), Brette Garner (University of Denver) and Benjamin Rydal Shapiro (Georgia State University), were recently awarded $2.6M from the National Science Foundation for the project, “Teaching Amidst Uncertainty: Developing Mathematics Teachers’ Groupwork Monitoring Practices.”

This work, which they have dubbed “Project TAU,” is a four-year project to study how experienced mathematics teachers develop groupwork monitoring: what teachers do as they observe, check in with and support the progress and quality of student-directed collaborative work around the classroom.

Project TAU researchers will investigate how teachers execute “teacher monitoring” or how the teacher interacts with students during peer-to-peer classroom discussion. They’ll also explore how teachers can effectively support student discussion that is productive and equitable. Using data visualizations and open-source tools alongside a video-based coaching activity, researchers will assess effectiveness of classroom monitoring.

“My role on this grant is to connect our research team with the teachers that I have been working with through our nonprofit organization, Math for America Los Angeles,” says Yong, who serves on its steering committee. More than 90 MfA LA teachers serve approximately 14,000 students per year, most of whom come from minoritized backgrounds. Yong helped start the organization in 2007 and has worked closely with the Teacher Leadership Program of the IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute since 2003.

Yong’s area of expertise is in secondary and tertiary mathematics education. Many of his research projects have focused on how secondary-school mathematics teachers deepen their content knowledge for teaching, gain leadership skills and learn new pedagogical strategies, particularly through peer communities.

Yong and the team of researchers seek to help teachers develop a strategic and integrated understanding of effective groupwork monitoring strategies that connect with students while facilitating peer-to-peer discussion. By honing in on the complex and consequential practice of monitoring and communicating findings to practitioners, Project TAU research will support the development of inclusive and academically rigorous math classrooms across the U.S. and beyond.