Skip Navigation

Faculty Page

Wendy Smith

Wendy

Contact Information

Assistant Director, Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education
Research Assistant Professor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
251 Avery Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0131 USA
wsmith5 (at) unl (dot) edu
402.472.7259

About Wendy

Dr. Wendy Smith earned her PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008, studying mathematics teacher change. Wendy's research interests include K-12 mathematics education, rural education, teacher change, teacher professional development, action research, and estimating teacher professional development effects on student achievement. Wendy began her career as a middle level mathematics teacher in the Lincoln Public Schools. Wendy's bachelor's and master's degrees are in mathematics, also from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Among other roles and responsibilities, I serve as the chief advisor for teachers earning their Master of Arts for Teachers (MAT) degree from the Department of Mathematics. More information about degrees for teachers in general is here, and more information about the MAT degree specifically is here and here.

Belief Statement

I believe learning needs to be active, and that it is time to revitalize how we educate people to become mathematics teachers. Preservice teachers need longer classroom internships, and more mathematics classes specifically designed for teachers. Mathematics teachers need to have very strong mathematical knowledge for teaching, knowing mathematics, teaching, and students deeply. Mathematics teachers need to see mathematics as inter-connected, and to make those connections explicit to students. Mathematics teachers need well-developed mathematical habits of mind, and the goal of teaching math should be to help students develop these habits of mind of mathematical thinkers. I see the overall goal of mathematics education as being the tool to develop reasoning and sense-making in students. It is important for elementary teachers to be trained as mathematics specialists, since elementary mathematics—as the foundation—comprise so much more than learning to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

Projects: Current and Past

  • Actively Learning Mathematics Research Action Cluster. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) has funded this 16-month (Dec 2013-March 2015), $70,283 pilot project to study reforms to college freshmen-level mathematics courses. Five universities are collaborating on this project. The project is part of the Mathematics Teacher Education Partnership.
  • Omaha Public Schools Teacher Leader Academy. The NebraskaMATH: Strengthening the OPS-UNL Partnership grant is a $5,455,811 grant from The Sherwood Foundation® and the Lozier Foundation, 5/1/2013-7/31/2016. The grant is focused on improving K-12 student mathematics outcomes in OPS through investing in teacher professional development, including four cohorts of primary teachers in Primarily Math, two cohorts of middle level teachers in Math in the Middle, an Algebra Initiative for high school teachers, and ongoing courses for K-12 teachers as part of the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes. The grant also includes a large research project to measure the program impact on teachers and students.
  • Data Connections: Developing a Coherent Picture of Mathematics Teaching and Learning, National Science Foundation, $1,264,400, 8/15/10-8/14/13. Co-Principal Investigator. This grant proposes to develop, refine, and disseminate statistical models that develop a coherent picture of mathematics teaching and learning, particularly in regard to Math Science Partnership programs.
  • NebraskaNOYCE, National Science Foundation, 3,000,000, 08/15/2010-08/31/2016. Co-Principal Investigator. This grant created Robert Noyce NSF Teacher Scholarship programs both for people to become new secondary mathematics teachers in high need Nebraska secondary schools, and for master mathematics teachers in Nebraska to be funded to further their education and take on added leadership roles in Nebraska mathematics instruction in high need schools.
  • NebraskaMATH, National Science Foundation, $9,235,417, 01/01/2009-12/31/2014. Research Coordinator. This grant supports a partnership among UNL, Lincoln Public Schools, Grand Island Public Schools, Papillion-La Vista Public Schools, the Omaha Public Schools and all 14 rural Educational Service Units. The partnership works to educate and support students and teachers at critical junctures, with an overall goal of improving achievement in mathematics for all students and narrowing achievement gaps of at-risk populations. The grant funds three programs: (1) Primarily Math, an initiative for K-3 teachers, (2) Nebraska Algebra, an initiative for Algebra I teachers, and (3) New Teacher Network, an initiative for new secondary teachers of mathematics.
  • Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes. These summer graduate courses for K-12 math and science teachers are offered on compressed schedules (usually 1- or 2-weeks long) at locations across Nebraska and online.
  • Math in the Middle, National Science Foundation, $5,900,000, 2004-2011. Senior Personnel. This grant supported a partnership among UNL, Lincoln Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, and ESUs 6 and 13. The grant educated and supported teams of outstanding middle-level (grades 5-8) mathematics teachers to become leaders in their schools, districts and Educational Service Units.
  • 2012 Learning Network Conference, National Science Foundation, $249,864, 9/1/2011-6/30-2012. Co-PI. This grant was for our team to plan and carry out NSF’s annual Math Science Partnerships Learning Network Conference in Washington, D.C., January 22-24, 2012, and then to oversee a broader dissemination effort of selected conference presentations. A special issue of articles related to Math Science Partnerships was published in July 2013; I was a co-guest editor of the special issue.
  • 2011 Learning Network Conference, National Science Foundation, $141,383, 11/15/2010-10/31/2011. Co-PI. This grant was for our team to plan and carry out NSF’s annual Math Science Partnerships Learning Network Conference in Washington, D.C., January 23-25, 2011, and then to oversee a broader dissemination effort of selected conference presentations.

Publications

  1. Colton, C., & Smith, W. M. (in press, Feb 2014). Successfully transitioning to linear equations. Mathematics Teacher.
  2. Ren, L., & Smith, W. M. (2013). Using the Mathematics Belief Scales short form with K-3 teachers: Validating the factor structure. In M. Martinez, & A. Castro Superfine, (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, pp. 857-860. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois at Chicago.
  3. Smith, W. M., Lewis, W. J., & Heaton, R. M. (2013). Ensuring mathematics learning in rural schools through investments in teacher knowledge. Great Plains Research, 23, 185-197.
  4. Heaton, R. M., & Smith, W. M. (2013). Developing effective mathematics teachers through National Science Foundation funded Math and Science Partnership grants. The Mathematics Enthusiast, 10(3), 509-518.
  5. Larson, M. R., & Smith, W. S. (2013). Distributed leadership, professional development, and district coherence: Improving primary students' mathematics achievement. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 4, 26-33.
  6. Smith, W. M., & Heaton, R. M. (2013). Learning from practice about improving the quality of mathematics teacher research. Mathematics Teacher Educator, 1(2), 148-161.
  7. Heaton, R. M., Lewis, W. J., & Smith, W. M. (2013). The Math in the Middle Institute: Strengthening middle level teachers’ mathematical and pedagogical capacities. In C. Beaver, L. Burton, M. Fung, & K. Kruczek, Eds., Resources for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers, pp. 47-58. MAA Notes Series.
  8. Heaton, R. M., Lewis, W. J., Homp, M. R., Dunbar, S. R., & Smith, W. M. (2013). Challenging and rigorous yet accessible and relevant mathematics courses for middle level teachers. In C. Beaver, L. Burton, M. Fung, & K. Kruczek, Eds., Resources for Preparing Middle School Mathematics Teachers, pp. 181-201. MAA Notes Series.
  9. Smith, W. M., Graupner, S., Hayek, L. M., & Welker, J. L. (2012). Essential elements for building community: The New Teacher Network. In California Mathematics Project (Ed.), Monograph: Mathematics Teacher Retention, pp. 124-129. Los Angeles, CA: California Mathematics Project.
  10. Petit Cunningham, E., Smith, W. M., & Yang, Y. (2012). Exploring the impact of professional development on K-3 teachers’ practices and their students’ understanding. In L. R. Van Zoest, J.-J. Lo, & J. L. Kratky, (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan University.
  11. Smith, W. M. (2012). Exploring relationships among teacher change and uses of contexts. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 24(3), 301-321. DOI 10.1007/s13394-012-0053-4
  12. Heaton, R. M., Lewis, W. J., & Smith, W. M. (2009). Building middle level mathematics teachers’ capacities as teachers and leaders: The Math in the Middle Institute Partnership. The Journal of Mathematics and Science: Collaborative Explorations, 11, 1-18.
  13. Smith, W. M. (2008). Exploring how three middle level mathematics teachers use their experiences in an ambitious professional development program. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Lincoln, NE.
  14. Heaton, R. M., Smith, W. M., Kromminga, R., & Hartman, D. (2008). Understanding the meaning of rural within a middle school mathematics professional development and research project in Nebraska. Appalachian Collaborative Center for Learning, Assessment, and Instruction in Mathematics (ACCLAIM) Working Paper #40.
  15. Heaton, R. M., Smith, W. M., Kromminga, R., & Hartman, D. (2008). The ambiguity of rural. Rural Mathematics Educator, 7(1).

Selected Presentations

  1. Swidler, S. A., Smith, W. M., & Heaton, R. M. (February, 2014). Practitioner inquiry in preservice mathematics teacher education. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Irvine, CA.
  2. Smith, W. M., Males, L. M., Swidler, S. A., Larson, B., & Pinquoch, B. (February, 2014). Preparing better teachers: Multiple perspectives on secondary mathematics certification. Symposium presentation at the annual meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Irvine, CA.
  3. Sutton, J. T., Smith, W. M., & Good, B. (October, 2013). Data management: Do it right from the outset or do it again and again. Presentation at the annual American Evaluation Association, Washington, D.C.
  4. Smith, W. M., Sutton, J. T., & Good, B. (October, 2013). Data management: Do it right from the outset or do it again and again. Invited presentation for the Research Education Lab (REL) Central Online Seminar series.
  5. Ren, L., & Smith, W. M. (April, 2013). Investigating the impact of credential level on growth in teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching after participating in professional development. Poster presented at the bi-annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, WA.
  6. Kutaka, T. S., Fleharty, H., Smith, W. S., & Green, J. L. (April, 2013). Connections between teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching and school-level poverty. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
  7. Fleharty, H., Kutaka, T. S., Smith, W. S., Green, J. L., & Edwards, C. P. (April, 2013). Primary teachers’ mathematical knowledge and student achievement gains: A longitudinal study. Poster presented at the bi-annual meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. Seattle, WA.
  8. Smith, W. M., Sutton, J. T., & Good, B. (April, 2013). Data management: Do it right from the outset or do it again and again. Invited presentation for the MSPnet Academy webinar series.
  9. Smith, W. M., & Males, L. M. (March, 2013). Navigating teaching from the beginning: Two cases of first year teachers accessing and utilizing resources. Paper presented at the Trends in Mathematics Education Reform Conference, Prague, Czech Republic.
  10. Smith, W. M. (March, 2013). Studying Nebraska’s new mathematics teachers. Poster presented at the Trends in Mathematics Education Reform Conference, Prague, Czech Republic.
  11. Smith, W. M., Sutton, J. T., & Good, B. (February, 2013). Data management: Do it right from the outset or do it again and again. Presentation at the Math Science Partnerships Learning Network Conference, Washington, D. C.
  12. Smith, W. M. (January, 2013). Preservice teachers’ investigations of struggling students: Developing more equitable mathematics teaching practices. Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Orlando, FL.
  13. Smith, W. M. (Nov., 2012). Studying Nebraska’s new mathematics teachers. Poster presented at the Trends in Mathematics Education Conference, Cork, Ireland.
  14. Edwards, C. P., & Smith, W. M. (April, 2012). Improving math education in Nebraska primary classrooms through teacher professional development: The NebraskaMATH project. CYFS Summit on Research in Early Childhood, Lincoln, NE.
  15. Kutaka, T. S., Edwards, C. P., & Smith, W. M. (April, 2012). Math competence beliefs in the early childhood years. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Vancouver, BC.
  16. Smith, W. M., & Shen, Y. (February, 2012). Examining K-3 teacher change trajectories across participation in a longitudinal mathematical professional development program. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Fort Worth, TX.
  17. Smith, W.M. (October, 2011). Enacting standards for mathematical practices in NebraskaMATH. Invited presentation given at the Enacting Standards for Mathematical Practices Conference, Lincoln, NE.
  18. Smith, W. M., Millerd, P., Sand, G., & Welker, J. (October, 2011). NebraskaMATH: Developing and supporting professional communities of mathematics teachers in Nebraska. Invited presentation at the fourth forum of the Conference Board of Mathematical Sciences, Reston, VA.
  19. Smith, W. M., Heaton, R. M., & Petit Cunningham, E. (April, 2011). How deep analysis of student work can improve instruction. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Indianapolis, IN.
  20. Fleharty, H., Green, J. L., Kutaka, T., & Smith, W. M. (October, 2011). Investigating middle level teachers’ mathematical content knowledge for teaching. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychology of Mathematics Education-North America conference, Reno, NV.
  21. Smith, W. M. & Homp, M. R. (April, 2011). NebraskaMATH courses related to CCSS-M. Presentation at the Gearing up for the Common Core Standards in Mathematics Conference, Tucson, AZ.
  22. Smith, W. M., Homp, M. R., & Lewis, W. J. (April, 2011). Developing Mathematical Habits of Mind in Mathematics Teachers. Presentation at the Gearing up for the Common Core Standards in Mathematics Conference, Tucson, AZ.
  23. Kutaka, T. S., Edwards, C. P., Smith, W. M., & Shen, Y. (April, 2011). Exploring How Accurately K-3 Children Assess Their Mathematical Competencies. Poster presented at the Research Pre-session of the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Indianapolis, IN.
  24. Heaton, R. M., & Smith, W. M. (2011). Action research about facilitating high quality teacher action research. Paper presented at the Annual meeting of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Irvine, CA.
  25. Smith, W. M. (2011). NebraskaMATH: Primarily Math research design. Paper presented at the Math Science Partnership program’s annual Learning Network Conference, Washington, DC.
  26. Green, J. L., & Smith, W. M. (2011). Connecting the pieces: Methodology for developing student achievement trajectories from different instruments. Paper presented at the Math Science Partnership program’s annual Learning Network Conference, Washington, DC.
  27. Green, J., Smith, W. M., Heaton, R. M., Shuo, J., & Stroup, W. (2010). Estimating the impact of a professional development program on student learning using a value-added model. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Researcher Association, Denver, CO.
  28. Smith, W. M. (April 2009). Exploring how three middle level mathematics teachers use their experiences in an ambitious professional development program. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego.

Classes Taught

  • TEAC 800 Inquiry into Teaching and Learning
  • TEAC 801 Curriculum Inquiry
  • TEAC 808J Middle Level Teaching and Learning Using Mathematical Trajectories
  • TEAC 888 Teacher as Scholarly Practitioner
  • TEAC 889 Master’s Seminar/Math in the Middle Capstone Course
  • TEAC 890 Responsive Instruction in the Elementary Mathematics Classroom
  • TEAC 923 Mathematics Education Seminar: Research in Teaching and Learning
  • TEAC 949A Mathematics Education Seminar: Trends and Issues in Mathematics Teaching and Learning