Previous Jacobson Institute Initiatives

The Steering Committee, with guidance from members of the Advisory Committee, had three initial initiatives for the Institute. These initiatives were completed in May 2021.

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