What does a masters degree in education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction in mathematics entail?
A masters degree in education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction in mathematics is a degree for educators that helps them to develop their understanding of pedagogy. In the program, we learn how to approach lessons and learning models to accommodate different learning styles.
As you progress through the program, you delve more deeply into your area of specialization. Since I am interested in curriculum for math classes, I am studying current research about how students learn in math classrooms. My program also requires students to conduct an original research project that is written in the form of a thesis during the last year.
After I earn my degree, I plan to work for a school district to design curriculum and build better functioning mathematics curriculum for high schools. Math is 1 area that is particularly weak in the United States, and I would like to work on improving this situation.
Another option for students who earn a masters degree in education is to become an associate or assistant principal. Typically, students can expect to make between $65,000 and $70,000 in the educational field once they earn their masters degrees.
What factors went into your decision to pursue your masters degree online?
I decided to pursue my masters degree online at University of Texas, Arlington because I have a very busy life as a high school teacher and the owner of a business. I am also a vice president of another business in Atlanta, Georgia, so I don't have time to attend traditional classes. I would like to teach college-level math to students, and I need to earn a masters degree in order to do so.
What are your program requirements?
My masters program in education at University of Texas, Arlington is an accelerated program that lasts for a year and a half. Students need to earn 36 credit hours to graduate, and for my specialization, I need 18 of those hours to be focused on mathematics. Right now, I am taking my fifth math class, which is on math theory.
I have also taken classes on number theory, algebra and pattern theory. Once I finish my math coursework, I will move on to courses in curriculum design and pedagogy. Then I will complete my capstone project, which is an original research project on a topic of my choice.
For our assignments, we are required to post to the discussion board and reply to our classmates' posts. We also do research assignments and write papers. Overall, I think that the program has a nice mixture of math, research papers, posts and discussion board conversation.
How are class materials presented?
Class materials are presented through an online courseware program called Epic. Each class consists of 5 modules, which are like topical sections within a class. We have pre-recorded lectures that appear on each class site as videos. In addition to the lectures, we usually have between 2 and 4 readings each week that are posted to the online classroom. The readings are often scholarly articles.
We also interact in the online discussion board and post our thoughts and respond to other students' thoughts. Attendance is graded through these discussion posts. When you post to the discussion board, the time is recorded, so the teacher can make sure that you are turning in your assignments and participating on time.
What are the most and least useful classes that you have taken?
The most useful classes I have taken are research and math classes, since these classes apply directly to my interests and my professional goals. In terms of least useful classes, a class I took on how to understand and analyze student behavior wasn't very helpful to me. I have already learned a lot about students through my job as a high school teacher.
Will you complete a thesis component in your program?
Yes, I will write a masters thesis in my program. My research for the thesis will look at a school in Dallas that has low-performing African-American high school students. They perform particularly low in math and science compared to other underrepresented groups. I am trying to determine if this is because they are not able to learn from certain teachers, in other words, if minority students don't get along with non-minority teachers in these settings. I want to analyze how often students participate and ask questions in class, how the teachers respond to students and how this affects academic performance in math and science.
Does your program have a residency requirement?
No, the masters program in education at University of Texas, Arlington does not have a residency requirement.
Do you have an advisor to assist you throughout your program?
Yes, I do have an advisor in my masters program, but I haven't interacted with her very much. When I have sent her e-mails with questions, she doesn't respond very quickly and doesn't act like she wants to communicate with me.
How do you interact with your professors?
I usually interact with my professors through e-mail. I have also used text messaging and phone calls to communicate with them. My professors have been available and quick to respond when I have questions. I very rarely have to wait longer than 24 hours to hear back from a professor.
How knowledgeable do you feel your professors are?
I think that my professors are very knowledgeable. Most of them are adjunct professors who teach online while they are teaching at another school, either online or offline. Some of the professors are also finishing their PhDs.
Are you able to get to know your professors on a personal basis?
Yes, I do feel like I have been able to get to know my professors on a personal basis. It feels like they care about my success, and when I have had to turn assignments in late, they have been understanding.
Based on your experience so far, is there anything you would have done differently in pursuing your masters degree online?
I am happy about my masters degree program at University of Texas, Arlington. The only thing that I might do differently is pursue a masters degree in mathematics rather than education, but I think that my current program will help me to meet my goals.
I would tell other online students who are thinking about pursuing a masters degree in education that time management is key to your success. Time management is what distinguishes online education from traditional education. When you study online, you have no one managing you or reminding you to meet deadlines. Your success will be determined by your ability to stay on task and on schedule.