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Katherine Merseth's work concentrated on charter schools, teacher education, mathematics education, and the case-method of instruction. At Harvard, she founded the Harvard Children's Initiative, a university-wide program focusing on the needs of children as well as the School Leadership and the Teacher Education Programs at the School of Education. In mathematics education, she was the principal investigator of the Mathematics Case Development Project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Massachusetts Math and Science Partnership working with middle school mathematics teachers using classroom based cases; she also served as co-principal investigator of the Teacher Education Addressing Mathematics and Science in Boston and Cambridge Project. Her book, Windows on Teaching Mathematics: Cases of Secondary Mathematics Classrooms (Teachers College Press), represents work in mathematics education and the case method while her involvement as a case method teacher of school administrators exists in her Cases in Educational Administration (Longman).
Internationally, she has edited four volumes of cases about classroom practice in South Africa, Chile, Brazil and a forthcoming volume from Jordan. In the charter field, she completed a two-year study examining best practices in high performing urban charter schools which culminated in the award-winning book, Inside Urban Charter Schools (Harvard Education Press). Merseth was awarded a Harvard Initiative on Teaching and Learning (HILT) award to explore the use of a new technology platform to enhance the teaching of controversial topics. She also was named as one of 15 outstanding professors at Harvard and was awarded, in 2018, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Prize for excellence in teaching. Merseth taught in the General Education Program of Harvard College. Merseth served as a curriculum developer, teacher, and administrator in K-12 schools. In addition to her Harvard doctorate, Merseth holds a bachelor's in pure mathematics from Cornell University, a master's in pure mathematics from Boston College, and a master of arts in teaching secondary mathematics from Harvard.
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