Our Work

Clinical Experiences RAC

Problem Addressed

General Approach

Who We Are

Current Progress

Opportunities for Engagement

Resources for Getting Started

CERAC Publications

Problem Addressed

Teacher preparation programs face significant challenges in providing secondary mathematics teacher candidates with quality clinical experiences. The problem is two-fold:

  1. There is an inadequate supply of quality mentor teachers to oversee the experiences. This is related to the quantity of teachers who are well versed in implementing the CCSS, especially embedding the standards for mathematical practice into their teaching of content standards on a daily basis.
  2. There needs to exist a bidirectional relationship between the teacher preparation programs and school partners in which clinical experiences take place. This relationship should reflect a common vision and shared commitment to the vision of CCSSM and other issues related to mathematics teaching and learning.

Over the past five years, the Clinical Experiences Research Action Cluster (CERAC) drawn from the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership has been working to improve clinical experiences for secondary mathematics teacher candidates. Specifically, the RAC is answering the following research question: How does a continuum of collaborative and student-focused clinical experiences, including co-planning/co-teaching and paired placement fieldwork models, impact pre-service teachers’ equitable implementation of the Mathematics Teaching Practices (MTPs) (NCTM, 2014) across institutional contexts? The CERAC is using improvement science frameworks drawn from the networked improvement community (NIC) approach (Bryk, Gomez, Grunow, & LeMahieu, 2015); the NIC model is also used by the larger partnership (Martin & Gobstein, 2015). The CERAC consists of 27 university-led teams, each consisting of at least one mathematics teacher educator, a mathematician, and a school partner. The RAC is divided into three sub-RACs based on three types of field experiences: Methods, Paired Placement, and Co-planning and Co-teaching. Below is our Driver’s Diagram:

Drivers Diagram

General Approach

  • The RAC is divided into three Sub-RACs based on the three types of field experiences that we are implementing to meet the goals that we set forth in our primary drivers and our aim statement.
  • Each Sub-RAC is implementing PDSA cycles based on their goals and objectives.
  • Teams work together via conference calls, email, and the Trellis platform.
  • We utilize Dropbox as a way of sharing files and materials.
  • Have had face-to-face meetings as a whole RAC with breakout meetings for Sub-RACs.
  • There are overlap areas that focus the RAC as a whole, such as the emphasis on NCTM’s mathematics teaching practices, PD for mentors around the CCSS and mentoring mathematics teacher candidates, and outcome measures.
  • There are also specific goals to be attained within each of the Sub-RACs.
  • Each Sub-RAC has specific research questions, which they are addressing.

Who We Are

Methods Sub-RACPaired Placement Sub-RACCo-Planning & Co-Teaching Sub-RAC

University of Alabama Partnership:
Jeremy Zelkowski
Jim Gleason
Martha Makowski
Casedy Thomas
Melinda Williams
Nathan Kenny
Karla Moore

Kennesaw State University:
Belinda Edwards

California State University, Fullerton:
Patrice Waller
Mark Ellis

Middle Tennessee Partnership:
Tennessee Tech University
Holly Anthony

USC Midlands:
Jan Yow
DeVonne Smalls

North Carolina West Partnership:
N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction
Joe Reaper

University of North Carolina—Charlotte:
Allison McCulloch

California State University, Northridge:
Ivan Cheng

University of North Dakota:
Michele Iiams
Cathy Williams

Central Alabama:
Marilyn Strutchens
W. Gary Martin
Bradley Bearden
Nancee Garcia
Huajun Huang
Brea Ratliff
Angela Parsons

David Erickson
Nick Grener
Jennie Luebeck

Columbus State University:
Basil Conway
Kenneth Jones
Deborah Gober

University of Hawai’i at Monoa:
Charmaine Mangram
Kara Suzuka

Tampa Bay Area:
Ruthmae Sears
Fernando Burgos

East Carolina University:
Charity Cayton
Maureen Grady
Ron Preston

California State University, Chico:
Jennifer Oloff-Lewis
Mary-Elizabeth Matthews
Christin Herrera

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona:
Laurie Riggs

Georgia State University:
Pier A. Junor Clarke
Christine Thomas
Draga Vidakovic

California State University, Northridge:
Ivan Cheng

California State University, Sacramento:
Stephanie Biagetti
Elaine Kasimatis

Ohio State University:
Patti Brosnan
Marybeth Smith

Black Hills State University:
Jamalee Stone

Current Progress

RAC Activity

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In 2017 CERAC members were awarded funding from the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education & Human Resources Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) – Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Development & Implement, I & II: Engage Student Learning Grant ID#s: 1726998, 1726362, & 1726853. The grant is a collaborative grant between Auburn University, APLU, and the University of South Florida. Any opin. ions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The work of the grant focuses on answering the research question mentioned above. More information about the grant can be found here.

The following sections provide updates related to the work that is being completed by each of the subRACs.

Early Field Experiences within Methods Sub-RAC

The methods sub-RAC is focused on strengthening the relationships between teacher candidates, university coursework and faculty, and most-importantly mentor teachers. The primary work of the methods team has been to develop, test, refine, retest, and finalize modules that connect the partners of mathematics teacher education critical to the development of teacher candidates’ abilities and knowledge to plan and impact each learner prior to student teaching. The modules’ work has centered on the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP) and the MTPs (NCTM, 2014) with a focus on ensuring opportunities for all learners. From 2012-2016, the SMP module resulted in a well-refined product which helped to improve mentor teachers’ views on the MTPs and positively influenced the relationships between teacher candidates and mentor teachers (Yow et al, 2019). Research related to the second module on lesson planning revealed that lessons implemented in mentor teacher classrooms have increased teacher candidates’ implementation of the MTPs and students’ engagement in SMPs as measured by the MCOP2 (Gleason, Livers, & Zelkowski, 2017; Zelkowski & Gleason; 2016). Mentor teachers have reported better understanding of what teacher candidates are expected to be able to learn and implement with respect to the MTPs (Zelkowski et al, 2020). A third module under development is focusing on the use of high-quality written feedback as a means to improve student learning towards mathematical goals with assessment (Zelkowski et al, 2020). For more information on the Methods Sub-RAC, please visit https://cerac-methods.ua.edu/.

Co-Plan/ Co-Teach Sub-RAC

Co-teaching is a pedagogical practice that promotes the collaboration and communication between teacher candidates and mentor teachers who share a common space in the organization, delivery, and assessment of instruction (Bacharch, Heck & Dahlberg, 2010). During clinical experiences, teacher candidates are actively involved in developing and implementing lessons with the guidance of the mentor teacher (Bacharch, Heck, & Dahlberg, 2010). The co-planning and co-teaching sub RAC members have engaged in multiple plan-do study-act (PDSA) cycles, in which they created instruments to measure co-teaching during clinical experiences, developed training resources to help mathematics teacher education programs enact the model, and examined the nature of institutional change as a result of using the model. We found that the use of co-teaching and co-planning increased learning opportunities for students and teacher candidates, developed teacher candidates’ confidence in their ability to become effective teachers of mathematics, as well as strengthened relationships between the university faculty and school personnel, thereby bridging research to practice.

Paired Placement Sub-RAC

The paired placement model for clinical teaching places two teacher candidates with one mentor teacher (Leatham & Peterson, 2010). Paired Placement is dubbed as a model of learning to teach that encourages collaboration, pedagogical risk taking, increased reflection, and better classroom management (Mau, 2013). Members of the paired placement sub-RAC have implemented the paired placement model across multiple institutions for five years and have used PDSA cycles to collect data before, during, and after the clinical teaching experience. PDSA cycles incorporate data from structured and unstructured interviews, surveys, teaching evaluations, and reflective journals. Teacher candidates participating in the model across different contexts have stated that they have become more collaborative, student-centered, and reflective practitioners. The paired placement subRAC has developed protocols for implementing the model, tips for the teacher candidates, and other resources to aid in the implementation of the model.

Opportunities for Engagement

Early Field Experiences within Methods Sub-RAC

  1. Implementing SMP module;
  2. Implementing the Lesson Planning module;
  3. Implementing the Feedback module; and
  4. Contributing to data collection, analysis, and distributing findings.

Co-Plan/ Co-Teach Sub-RAC

  1. Developing, utilizing, and sharing instruments used to measure the influence of the co-teaching model; and
  2. Implementing and examining teacher candidates’ experiences throughout their field-based preparation (i.e., practicum and internship); and
  3. Studying the influence of professional development on the success of the co-teaching model.

Paired Placement Sub-RAC

  1. Developing, utilizing, and sharing instruments used to measure the influence of the paired placement model;
  2. Implementing and examining teacher candidates’ experiences throughout their field-based preparation (i.e., practicum and internship); and
  3. Refining and studying the influence of professional development and orientation sessions on the success of the paired placement model.

Resources for Getting Started

Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. (2017). Standards for preparing teachers of mathematics. Retrieved online from https://amte.net/sites/default/files/SPTM.pdf

  • The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), presents these standards as a guide to improve teacher education programs in the United States. It serves as a vision for the initial preparation of K-12 teachers of mathematics and it advocates for practices that support candidates in their preparation in becoming effective mathematics teachers who guide student learning.

Friend, M., Cook, L., Hurley-Chamberlain, D., & Shamberger, C. (2010). Co-teaching: An illustration of the complexity of collaboration in special education. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 20(1), 9-27.

  • The authors present a comprehensive view of co-teaching including its origins in Special Education, a definition of co-teaching and its differences from team teaching. Although there is much enthusiasm for co-teaching, it is a complex undertaking. This document illustrates the complexity of co-teaching and includes the relationships and roles of co-teachers, co-teaching’s impact on student achievement, and program logistics. It also raises issues such as inconsistencies in definitions, professional preparation, and school culture.

Goodnough, K., Osmond, P., Dibbon, D., Glassman, M., & Stevens, K. (2008). Exploring a triad model of student teaching: Pre-Service teacher and cooperating teacher perceptions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, 285 – 296.

  • Goodnough, Osmond, Dibbon, Glassman, and Stevens’ article provided insight into the benefits and possible challenges mentor teachers and teacher candidates may experience with the triad model. Additionally, Goodnough et al. provided a description of co-teaching models that may emerge during this type of student teaching experience.

Leatham, K., & Peterson, B. (2010). Secondary mathematics cooperating teachers’ perceptions of the purpose of student teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 13, 99-119.

  • Leatham and Peterson’s article highlights the importance of the mentor teacher viewing the student teaching experience as an opportunity for teacher candidates to strengthen their teaching practices. Through the use of a metaphor of a shoe store apprentice, Leatham and Peterson described the role of the mentor teacher in facilitating the teacher candidate’s growth. Similar to a shoe store apprentice’s need to make shoes and run a shoe store, teacher candidates need to learn how to facilitate student learning and manage a classroom, with the greatest emphasis placed on facilitating student learning.

Mullis, I. V., Martin, M. O., Foy, P., & Arora, A. (2012). TIMSS 2011 international results in mathematics. International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Herengracht 487, Amsterdam, 1017 BT, The Netherlands.

  • The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, (TIMSS), 2011 provides international results for mathematics achievement for fourth and eighth grade students in 63 countries. It includes achievement over time for participants in the previous TIMSS assessments in 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007. This document also provides a mathematics report which describes the educational contexts for mathematics, including home environment support, students’ backgrounds and attitudes toward mathematics, the mathematics curriculum, teachers’ education and training, classroom characteristics and activities, and school contexts for mathematics learning and instruction.

Murawski, W. W., & Spencer, S. (2011). Collaborate, communicate, and differentiate!: How to increase student learning in today’s diverse schools. Corwin Press.

  • This is a guide that provides a detailed, focused treatment of collaboration. It is presented in a practical and easy-to-access format for K-12 educators and administrators as well as other stakeholders such as parents and policy makers.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Commission on Teaching Standards for School Mathematics. (1991). Professional standards for teaching mathematics. Reston, VA: Author.

  • This document presents professional standards, developed by the National Council for the Techers of Mathematics (NCTM). It details what mathematics teachers need to know to teach mathematics in the new framework detailed in an earlier document, “Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics”. It also details how to evaluate mathematics teaching and also presents standards for professional development of mathematics teachers. This document also provides next steps that will need to be addressed to continue to implement the standards.

Peterson, B., & Leatham, K. (2018). The structure of student teaching can change the focus of students’ mathematical thinking. In M.E. Strutchens, R. Huang, L. Losano, & D. Potari (Eds.) Educating prospective secondary mathematics teachers. Monograph Series Edited by Kaiser, G. (pp. 9- 26). Switzerland: Springer.

  • Peterson and Leatham’s article provided insight into the impact of changing the traditional structure of the student teaching experience. Peterson and Leatham’s model placed two teacher candidates with one mentor teacher. They found that this model resulted in increased collaboration and shifted teacher candidates’ focus from classroom management and behavioral issues to a focus on students’ mathematical thinking.

Sears, R., Brosnan, P., Oloff-Lewis, J., Gainsburg, J., Stone, J., Spencer, C., Riggs, L., Biagetti, S., Cayton, C., Grady, M., Junor-Clarke, P., & Andreason, J. (2017). Using improvement science to transform clinical experiences with co-teaching strategies. Annual perspectives of mathematics education (APME) 2017: Reflective and collaborative processes to improve mathematics teaching. (pp. 265-273). NCTM: Reston, VA.

  • Sears et al. discuss how improvement science influenced their work with mentor teachers and co-teaching strategies. By utilizing plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles, Sears et al. explored factors that impacted the sustainability and effectiveness of the co-planning and co-teaching model.

Stein, M. K., Engle, R. A., Smith, M. S., & Hughes, E. K. (2008). Orchestrating productive mathematical discussions: Five practices for helping teachers move beyond show and tell. Mathematical thinking and learning, 10(4), 313-340.

  • In this article, the authors propose a pedagogical model for using student responses to inquiry-based tasks more effectively in whole-class class discussions. Their belief is that this model can make student-centered approaches to mathematics instruction more attainable and more feasible for teachers. The model specifies five practices that teachers can use. These five practices are anticipating, monitoring, selecting, sequencing and making connections between student responses. The authors suggest that these five practices can help teachers gain confidence and efficacy over their inquiry-based instruction because they learn ways to reliably form student discussions.

Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world’s teachers for improving education in the classroom. Simon and Schuster.

  • In this book, the authors use the phrase, “teaching gap” to illustrate the differences in mathematics teaching methods they observed across 63 countries studied in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS. They emphasize that lessons in the United States lack rich problem solving and emphasize discrete and disconnected procedures. They argue that to improve student achievement in the U.S, the performance of teachers must be improved through greater opportunities to learn about teaching. They emphasize that U.S. schools need to commit to continuous improvement systems that make changes that are sustained over the long-term.

CERAC Publications

Grady, M., Sears, R., Stone, J., & Biagetti, S. (2020). Using co-planning and co-teaching strategies to transform secondary mathematics clinical experiences. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 235 -256). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Mangram, C., Clarke, P.A. J., Waller, P.P., Ellis, R.L., & Castro-Minnehan, C. (2020). Focus on improving clinical experiences in secondary mathematics teacher preparation. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 281 -292). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Martin, W. G. & Strutchens, M.E. (2018). Improving secondary mathematics teacher preparation via a networked improvement community: Focus on clinical experiences. In M.E. Strutchens, R. Huang, L. Losano, & D. Potari (Eds.) Educating prospective secondary mathematics teachers. Monograph Series Edited by Kaiser, G. (pp. 27- 46). Switzerland: Springer.

Strutchens, M.E., Erickson, D., Sears, R., & Zelkowski, J. (2020). Clinical experiences for secondary mathematics teacher candidates. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 179 -198). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Strutchens, M.E., Sears, R., Whitfield, J., Biagetti, S., Brosnan, P., Oloff-Lewis, J., Clarke, P.A., Stone, J.J., Erickson, D.R., Parrish, C., Conway IV, B.M., & Ellis, R.L. (2019). Implementation of paired placement and co-planning/co-teaching field experience models across multiple contexts. In T. Hodges, & A. Baum (Eds.), Handbook of research on field-based teacher education. (pp. 32-63). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-6249-8.ch002.

Strutchens, M.E., Whitfield, J., Erickson, D., & Conway, B. (2020). Fostering collaborative and reflective teacher candidates through paired placement student teaching experiences. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 257 – 280. Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Strutchens, M.E., Sears, R., & Zelkowski, J. (2020). Improving clinical experiencesfor secondary mathematics teacher candidates. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 199 -209). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Yow, J.A., Waller, P., & Edwards, B. (2019). A national effort to integrate field experiences into secondary mathematics methods courses. In T. Hodges, & A. Baum (Eds.), Handbook of research on field-based teacher education (pp. 395-419). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Zelkowski, J., Yow, J., Ellis, M., & Waller, P. (2020). Engaging mentor teachers with teacher candidates during methods courses in clinical settings. In W.G. Martin, B. Lawler, A. Lischka, & W. Smith (Eds.), The Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership: The power of a networked improvement community to transform secondary mathematics teacher preparation (pp. 211 – 234). Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Selected Proceedings

Conway, B., Erikson, D., Parish, C., Strutchens, S., & Whitfield, J. (2017, October). An alternative approach to the traditional internship model. Paper presented at the Georgia Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Eagle Rock, GA. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/gamte/.

Sears, R., Castro-Minnehan, C., Riggs, L., Junor Clarke, P., Stone, J., Cayton, C., Oloff-Lewis, J., Grady, M., Brosnan, P., & Strutchens, M. (2020, July 11-20). Preservice teachers and collaborating teachers’ perspectives of using co-planning and co-teaching during clinical experiences in secondary mathematics. [Paper]. 14th international Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-14). Beijing, China.

Sears, R., Strutchens, M., Lawler, B., Dupree, L., Pinder, C., Castro-Minnehan, C. (2020, July 11-20). Secondary mathematics preservice teachers perspective of means to facilitate equitable learning opportunities. [Paper]. 14th international Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME-14). Beijing, China.

Strutchens, M., Sears, R., Zelkowski, J., Edwards, B. Conway IV, B. & Mangram, C. (2019). Clinical experiences research action cluster report. In W. M. Smith, J. F. Strayer, R. S.Jones, K. Callahan, & L. Augustyn, (Eds.), Proceedings of the 8th annual Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership conference. St Louis, MO: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Zelkowski, J. & Gleason, J. (2016). Using the MCOP2 as a grade bearing assessment of clinical field observations. In Lawler, B.R., Ronau, R.N. & Mohr-Schroeder, M.J. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Annual Mathematics Teacher Education – Partnership Conference. Washington, DC: Association of Public Land-grant Universities.


Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators. (2017). Standards for Preparing Teachers of Mathematics. Available online at amte.net/standards.

Bacharach, N., Heck, T. W., & Dahlberg, K. (2010). Changing the face of student teaching through coteaching. Action in Teacher Education, 32(1), 3-14.

Bryk, A., Gomez, L. M., Grunow, A., & LeMahieu, P. (2015). Learning to improve: How America’s schools can get better at getting better. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Ed Press.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Gleason, J., Livers, S.D., & Zelkowski, J. (2017). Mathematics Classroom Observation Protocol for Practices (MCOP2): Validity and reliability. Investigations in Mathematical Learning, 9(3), 111-129.

Leatham, K. R., & Peterson, B. E. (2010). Purposefully designing student teaching to focus on students’ mathematical thinking. In J. W. Lott & J. Luebeck (Eds.), Mathematics teaching: Putting research into practice at all levels (pp. 225–239). San Diego, CA: Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators.

Martin, W. G., & Gobstein, H. (2015). Generating a networked improvement community to improve secondary mathematics teacher preparation: Network leadership, organization, and operation. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(5), 482–493. DOI: 10.1177/0022487115602312

Mau, S. (2013). Letter from the editor: Better together? Considering paired-placements for student teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 113(2), 53–55.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2014). Principles to actions: Ensuring mathematical success for all. Reston, VA: Author.

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