Jacobson Institute for Innovation in Education

The Jacobson Institute for Innovation in Education was established in 2008 by a gift from Richard O. Jacobson. Mr. Jacobson joined the Grand View Board of Trustees in 1997. His leadership and philanthropy at Grand View, throughout Iowa, and beyond has helped numerous organizations improve education, build community, and prepare for a better future. The vision of the Jacobson Institute is to identify innovative strategies that improve the quality of teaching and learning and to put those strategies into practice.

The Jacobson Institute, based at Grand View University, is uniquely positioned to serve as a resource for Iowa educators for the ultimate benefit of Iowa's students enrolled K-12 and in our 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. Since 2017, the Institute has been focused on mathematics education. As such, the Institute is a key ally of mathematics education in Iowa.

Institute Vision & Strategies

The Jacobson Institute for Innovation in Education is a valued resource in the central Iowa community and beyond for identifying and promoting the implementation of innovative strategies that improve the quality of teaching and learning.

Strategy 1

The Jacobson Institute analyzes the educational landscape and conducts needs assessments to identify focus areas. 

  • Focus on improving educational effectiveness in mathematics education.
  • Aims to improve mathematics education in K-12 schools and in early college mathematics education, particularly developmental mathematics.
  • Seeks to bridge the mathematics education divide between K-12 schools and college in order to foster educational continuity and success for post-secondary students.
Strategy 2

The Jacobson Institute evaluates programs and resources to identify innovative evidence-based resources and strategies that will improve teaching and learning. 

  • Collaborates with other mathematics and STEM education experts to identify innovative models and methods that show the most promise for improving mathematics education.
  • Conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative educational models and methods in mathematics education and shares effective practices with the academic community.
  • Determines the graduate students who are selected as Jacobson Fellows and works with them to identify, research, and support the implementation of effective and innovative instructional practices.
Strategy 3

The Jacobson Institute collaborates with internal and external partners to design professional development for mathematics educators in K-12 and college settings and to support the implementation of effective, innovative models and methods in mathematics education. 

  • Identifies and works with partner schools to facilitate the implementation of effective mathematics curriculum materials and teaching practices.
  • Promotes face-to-face and online professional learning communities among mathematicians, mathematics educators, teacher leaders, and school administrators.
  • Designs and implements professional development workshops, materials, and coursework for mathematics educators.
  • Develops the Jacobson Visiting Scholars program.
Strategy 4

The Jacobson Institute works with Grand View's mathematics and education departments to ensure Grand View graduates are exceptional mathematics educators who are empowered to lead mathematics education efforts. 

  • Collaborates with the mathematics and education departments at Grand View University to design mathematics courses and experiences for educators that promote deep understanding of mathematics content and practices.
  • Collaborates with the Grand View mathematics and education departments to provide opportunities for Grand View education majors to participate in exceptional clinical experiences where they observe and engage in using both innovative methods and identified best practices in mathematics education.
  • Partners with the Des Moines Public Schools Dream to Teach initiative and K-12 schools to identify future teachers who show interest and ability in teaching mathematics at elementary, middle school, and high school levels, and encourages their participation in Grand View's undergraduate and Institute-developed pre-college development programs.
  • Designs exceptional curriculum and experiences for Grand View's mathematics endorsements.
  • Establishes research / internship experiences for undergraduate and graduate students / teachers as part of the Grand View mathematics endorsements.
  • Collaborates with the mathematics and education departments and the admissions and marketing and communication offices to promote and develop Grand View's mathematics teacher education program.

Institute Initiatives

The Steering Committee, with guidance from members of the Advisory Committee, has discerned three initial initiatives for the Institute. These are consistent with the Institute’s strategic goals.

1. Needs Assessment

The Institute contracted with the Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE) at Iowa State University to create and implement a needs assessment regarding the status of teaching and learning of mathematics within the state of Iowa. This information is desirable for two purposes.

  1. Data will be collected, analyzed, and shared publicly to form a baseline to enable future longitudinal studies.
  2. The results will be used to inform and guide professional development offerings from the Institute and provide direction to state math leaders regarding potential regional and state math initiatives.

The assessment was administered in Spring 2018. A public report of the findings of this study is now available:

These findings will also be shared with various groups of Iowa stakeholders, with presentations planned at several key events in 2019.

2. Professional Development in Early Math Learning

The Institute is pleased to sponsor Early Math Learning, a teacher professional development program for pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade teachers. This program involves both an intensive summer workshop and ongoing support during the subsequent school year. 

In this program, teachers are immersed in early math content, develop their understanding of children's thinking, engage in pedagogical practices to support learning, and view themselves as capable math teachers. The Institute recognizes the particular importance of early numeracy and is excited to team up with experienced educators to deliver these experiences.

The Institute sponsored a group of 40 teachers in 2018-19, the inaugural year for this program. For 2020-21, the workshops were canceled due to Covid-19; however, they will resume through a continued partnership with Des Moines Public Schools in 2021, including an at-large teacher workshop. These workshops have allowed almost 200 Iowa teachers to participate in Early Math Learning professional development. 

3. Developmental Mathematics

The Institute recognizes that the issue of developmental mathematics has become a significant one for 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities. Many college students need “remediation” in mathematics upon entering college, so they are required to take so-called developmental math courses, often for no graduation credit and often with low success rates.

The Institute has examined various strategies and alternative pathways for developmental mathematics that hold promise for improving student learning of mathematics and reducing time-to-degree. The Institute actively seeks to facilitate discussion of various constituent groups on this important topic. These discussions began with presentations at state mathematics conferences and meetings in 2018 and 2019, and will continue with a Statewide Summit on the Mathematics Transition from High School through College in April 2021.

Jacobson Visiting Scholars

Megan Franke, distinguished scholar from the Graduate Department of Education at UCLA, was named the 2018 Jacobson Visiting Scholar. Professor Franke is known internationally for her work on Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) and Development and Research in Early Mathematics Education (DREME). She presented a colloquium at Grand View University focusing on the latest research and curriculum development in the early learning of mathematics. This colloquium was part of the Jacobson Institute's initiative on Early Math Learning, which launched in Summer 2018 with a teacher workshop using the DREME materials.  Additional teacher workshops based on the DREME materials are planned for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Jacobson Fellows

The Jacobson Fund provides financial support for Education graduate students who are furthering their preparation to teach and provide leadership for their fellow educators.

The Jacobson Fellows in 2018-2019 include:

  • Amy Brinker - Johnston Community School District
  • Courtney Copley - Holy Family Catholic School
  • Jessica Heirigs - Dallas Center - Grimes Community School District
  • Erin Hollister - Des Moines Public Schools
  • Ami Randazzo - Johnston Community School District