Professor Jim Dorward of the College of Education and Human Services was the featured speaker at the President’s home on March 22. Dorward’s presentation was part of the inaugural professor lecture series. He received his promotion last year based on his record of high achievement.
“It’s an honor to be promoted to full professor,” said Dorward.
His career at USU began in 1991. He taught as an assistant professor of elementary education until 1997, when he was promoted to associate professor. In 2005 he received full professorship.
Dorward specializes in conducting project-based research. He works with people in collaborative environments to develop ideas and write grant proposals that will fund research. Many of his projects have been federally funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.
“Virtually all of my research is collaborative,” said Dorward. “There is a group of folks, and I’m just one of them. What I bring to the table is a knowledge of what good math teaching is, the ability to evaluate programs, and a vision for what might work.”
Dorward and his fellow researchers tackle problems such as low funding in the classroom and try to find solutions using technology, such as computers.
“I work on things that target an identifiable problem that people express in education,” said Dorward.
He is involved with five federally funded projects, one of which, the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, is an archive of interactive, web-based virtual manipulatives or concept tutorials, for mathematics instruction (K-12 emphasis). These virtual computer programs help teachers and students visualize relationships and applications.
The NLVM project was started seven years ago by Bob Heal and Larry Cannon in Mathematics and Statistics, and Dr. Dorward in Elementary Education. In 2000 the team received a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation, and in 2004 they received a two-year grant for $770,000. Many of the programmers who helped create the programs are graduate students at USU.
Dorward said that the Web site currently receives over four million hits every school day, from all over the world. The Web site is available in Spanish and French, with Danish, and Chinese versions currently under development.
“It is exciting to see materials developed here at Utah State used by people all over the world,” said Dorward.
Since July 2005 Dorward has held a part-time administrative position as the associate dean for research in the College of Education and Human Services. A main responsibility is helping faculty write grants and find research funding. Dorward is experienced in grant writing, having written or co-written 45 grants, more than half of which have been funded. Dorward also supervises graduate students and teaches several math classes.