The goals for the Center of Excellence for Inquiry in Mathematics and Science (CEIMS) are to:
- Increase the number of highly qualified middle school mathematics and science teachers
- Increase the quality, confidence, and competence of in-service middle school mathematics and science teachers through the use of effective inquiry-based practice.
Clemson University is the host of the Center of Excellence for Inquiry in Mathematics and Science (CEIMS). Led by Mathematics Educator Bob Horton and Science Educator Jeff Marshall, CEIMS is part of our broader Inquiry in Motion Institute, whose primary effort is to improve K-12 mathematics and science instruction.
To accomplish the first goal, CEIMS is modifying our existing undergraduate programs so that elementary and secondary teachers can obtain middle school certification, and we are designing a program so that in-service teachers can add on middle school certification. To meet the second goal, CEIMS offer two levels of Professional Development Institutes (PDIs), which will give in-service middle school math and science teachers extensive and intensive experiences to increase their content knowledge and improve their pedagogical skills. These Institutes, along with two other support structures, a Dynamic Web Tool and the creation and implementation of Exemplars, are described more fully on the Inquiry in Motion website.
Inquiry is a teaching method that actively engages learners in solving meaningful problems and designing, conducting, and analyzing the results from experiments and explorations. As teachers become better equipped to use inquiry-based methods, students learn at far deeper levels. The new instructional strategies emphasize student participation in the development of ideas over lecture and formula-driven strategies that dominate most middle school math and science classrooms.
Our drive to support teachers’ transformation to inquiry-based practice is framed by the innovative, yet research-driven 4E x 2 Instructional Model. This Model unites key components of learning that include inquiry instruction (Engage, Explore, Explain, and Extend), formative assessment, and student reflection. All three components have individually been shown to improve student achievement.
Our 2008-09 partner schools are Beck and Hughes Middle School Academies in Greenville County. Though these schools will remain partners throughout our existence, we will add two middle schools per year. In 2009-2010, our new partners will be Seneca Middle School in Oconee County and Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville County. Administrators from these and future partner schools will encourage active participation of their teachers in the Center. After working with us for two years, many of these teachers will be come mentors to Clemson students enrolled in pre-service middle school teaching programs.
We believe CEIMS will make a significant, positive difference in middle school mathematics and science teaching, with the end result increased student achievement. Our efforts will be shared throughout the state and the nation, and, we hope, will make the future a little bit brighter for all of us.