Research Spotlight

Q & A with Christopher Engledowl, Ph. D., Coordinator for Mathematics Content Development and Implementation at the Lastinger Center for Learning

What research are you currently working on?

Currently, in my role as a Research Scientist in the Lastinger Center for Learning, I am engaged in 4 major areas of research. Drawing on my background in mathematics education research, in a collaborative role with the mathematics education team, I am leading a study of the impact of the Math Matrix—an online, asynchronous professional learning system for K–12 mathematics teachers—on teacher mathematical knowledge for teaching and self-efficacy for teaching mathematics, with a smaller focus on distal impact on student mathematics achievement. Extending from my mathematics education background, and my quantitative research background, I am also leading a research study on the landscape of mathematics education in Florida, drawing on perspectives from teachers, administrators, parents, business/community leaders, politicians, students, and other stakeholders as part of the Lastinger Center Listening Tour (you can read about it here and here).

This involves a mixed methods approach, using data from surveys and focus group interviews to make sense of the current perspectives, needs, and challenges to support on-going policy development to support improvement of mathematics education in Florida. Third, I am working with the New Worlds Reading Initiative team to develop and refine parent surveys of their experience as participants in the program, as well as self-report of impacts on their relationship to reading with their child at home. This also extends to an investigation of associations between participation in New Worlds Reading Initiative (NWRI) and student reading achievement, as measured by the state FAST assessments. For the final major component, I am drawing heavily on my user experience research background to support the Flamingo Literacy Micro-Credentials program to make sense of behavioral log data by investigating trends in time spent on different program components to detect learner user disengagement that would inform early intervention to improve course completion rates and learner success.

What is the broader impact of your research?

Overall, my research supports development of an accessible, sustainable professional learning system that supports teachers to overcome significant challenges they currently face in establishing a successful classroom learning environment that leads students to academic success. Teachers are consistently met with substantial challenges and have little time and resources to deepen and extend their knowledge and instructional skills—despite a desire to do so. My research seeks to find effective ways to fill that need and provide a pathway to achieve a worthwhile goal to improve mathematics and reading literacy across the state. As a step toward this goal, we are conducting our first major pilot this Fall of the Math Matrix with 250 K-12 mathematics teachers across the state.

What other research topics are you interested in?

Broadly, I am interested in mathematics education, statistics education, quantitative research methods, and user experience research. Prior to joining the Lastinger Center, my research program focused tightly on understanding secondary teachers’ mathematical and statistical reasoning, their pedagogical content knowledge, and their self-efficacy. I also spent substantial time studying secondary students’ mathematical and statistical reasoning, self-efficacy, and engagement in the mathematical practices—especially as it involves mathematical discourse—including how these can be influenced through a learning games environment (see my work on Math Snacks). I am very interested in the emergent field of data science education, and how statistics education can support its development into a robust field of study that supports meaningful student engagement in data science across K–20. Intersecting with these interests, and after having spent a short time as a Quantitative User Experience Researcher, is my high interest in user experience research, especially from a quantitative perspective—a skill I am afforded much latitude to hone and make use of at the Lastinger Center for Learning.