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​​Program Details:

A National Science Foundation Supported Undergraduate Research Experience for Secondary Education Mathematics Majors


Summer 2017


Professors: Saad El-Zanati and David Barker                

Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois


We will offer an eight-week (June 5–July 28, 2017) summer research experience for eight undergraduates majoring in secondary education in mathematics and for four in-service secondary mathematics teachers. The pre-service teachers will be recruited nationwide (with emphasis on the Midwest region and on institutions that serve primarily minority populations), while the in-service teachers will be recruited from Illinois. The participants will explore, in teams of three, several research topics in discrete mathematics with emphasis on experimentation, conjecture, careful justification, and clear, precise reporting. An added emphasis of the project is on the development and implementation, by the REU participants, of a one-week Mathematics Research Camp (July 10–July 14, 2017) for 12 high school students from the Chicago Public School (CPS) district.

The main objective of the project is to provide research opportunities for the participants, helping them become highly-qualified teachers who can meet national demands for increased student proficiency and can adapt to the changing needs of our technological society. An additional objective is to showcase positive teaching role models for the pre-service participants.

The expected outcomes related to the project goals include: (1) “teacher-scholars”—teachers and prospective teachers who experience scholarship in mathematics in a setting that emphasizes the interconnections among theory, procedures and applications and who develop habits of mind of a mathematical thinker, (2) likely research publications authored jointly by students and faculty, (3) partnerships between university researchers and high school mathematics teachers, with common goals, and (4) teaching modules in discrete mathematics developed by the “teacher-scholars” that reflect a pedagogical emphasis on deep mathematical thinking.


The pre-service participants will be offered up to $400 in travel support, a dorm room to be shared with other participants in the REU, a meal plan, and a $4000 stipend. The in-service participants will be offered travel support, cost of living expenses, and a $5600 stipend. We will also support travel by the participants to some regional and national undergraduate research conferences.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents to qualify, and applications from women, minority candidates, and physically challenged students are particularly encouraged. Spring 2017 graduates are not eligible.


The ideal candidate for this project would have completed their jumior year. A distinguished academic record and indication of research interest or potential are essential. Make sure you check the CRITERIA FOR SELECTION section for more details.


Further information can be obtained by contacting Dr. Saad El-Zanati at:


4520 Department of Mathematics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4520.


TELEPHONE: (309)-438-5765;  E-MAIL:;  FAX: (309)-438-5866.