This Research Commentary addresses the need for standards for describing mathematics professional development in mathematics education research reports. Considering that mathematics professional development is an emerging research field, it is timely to set expectations for what constitutes high-quality reporting in this field. Through an examination of the research reports on the topic published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education during the past decade, I offer a framework and a set of features to be used in initiating discussions about pros and cons of having reporting standards. I contend that when researchers have standards for describing the mathematics professional development they are studying, better quality will be attained in the new research field.
Gwyneth Hughes, Jonathan Brendefur and Michele Carney
As the focus of mathematics education moves from memorization toward reasoning and problem solving, professional development for in-service teachers must model these activities while simultaneously increasing participants' mathematical knowledge. We examine a representative task from a mathematics professional development course that uses rational number operation as an opportunity for problem solving and modeling. Transcripts exemplify the growth teachers make in deeply understanding the content–division of fractions–while engaging in guided reinvention and classroom discourse. We propose 4 interconnected qualities of this task that allow participants to engage in and reflect on the process of guided reinvention: (1) authentic context with multiple solution methods, including visual; (2) cognitive dissonance; (3) deep engagement; and (4) impact on mathematical knowledge for teaching.
Beth A. Herbel-Eisenmann, Michael D. Steele and Michelle Cirillo
We describe our ongoing efforts to design materials for supporting secondary mathematics teachers in using a set of Teacher Discourse Moves purposefully in order to develop classroom discourse that is both productive and powerful for students' learning. We focus on secondary mathematics classroom discourse because mathematical language and meanings get increasingly complex beginning in middle school, and most discourse-related work in mathematics education has focused on elementary school classrooms. We make explicit both the concepts we use and the translation of these theoretical concepts into ideas useful for practice. This article contributes to ongoing discussions about making visible the work of developing research-based professional development materials.
Heather C. Hill and Deborah Loewenberg Ball
Widespread agreement exists that U.S. teachers need improved mathematics knowledge for teaching. Over the past decade, policymakers have funded a range of professional development efforts designed to address this need. However, there has been little success in determining whether and when teachers develop mathematical knowledge from professional development, and if so, what features of professional development contribute to such teacher learning. This was due, in part, to a lack of measures of teachers' content knowledge for teaching mathematics. This article attempts to fill these gaps. In it we describe an effort to evaluate California's Mathematics Professional Development Institutes (MPDIs) using novel measures of knowledge for teaching mathematics. Our analyses showed that teachers participating in the MPDIs improved their performance on these measures during the extended summer workshop portion of their experience. This analysis also suggests that program length as measured in days in the summer workshop and workshop focus on mathematical analysis, reasoning, and communication predicted teachers' learning.
Douglas Lyman Corey, Travis Lemon, Edward Gilbert and Hiroyuki Ninomiya
U.S. teachers describe effective professional development that they experienced in Japan and how their teaching has been illuminated through continued collaboration with Japanese colleagues.
Nicole Panorkou and Jennifer L. Kobrin
This research study was designed to evaluate the extent to which professional development (PD) designed around a learning trajectory (LT) on geometric measurement of area was successful in helping teachers use the LT to conduct formative assessment. Six 3rd-grade teachers from the Midwest participated in 20 hours of PD centered on the LT. Data to evaluate the PD were obtained from a set of questionnaire prompts administered before and after teachers' participation in the PD. The results suggest that teachers increased their ability to elicit and interpret student thinking and use assessment results to make instructional decisions. We consider the design and evaluation of this PD to be valuable for future efforts aiming to use LTs to support teachers in their formative assessment practices.
Laura B. Sample McMeeking, Rebecca Orsi and R. Brian Cobb
The effect of a 15- to 24-month in-service professional development (PD) program on state accountability mathematics test scores for middle school students was examined using a quasi-experimental design. Middle level mathematics teachers (n = 128) from 7 school districts and 64 middle schools volunteered for a PD sequence of content-oriented summer courses and pedagogy-oriented structured follow-up experiences during the subsequent academic year. Student effects of the PD program were measured using Colorado's state mathematics test results for 2 cohorts of students: 1 that received mathematics instruction from participant teachers in the year prior to the PD and another cohort that received mathematics instruction in the year following the PD. The odds of a student achieving a Proficient or Advanced score on the state test were then compared between cohorts. Results showed that students' odds of achieving a score of Proficient or better increased with teacher participation in the PD program.
Courtney A. Bell, Suzanne Wilson, Traci Higgins and D. Betsy McCoach
This study examines the impact of a nationally disseminated professional development program, Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI), on teachers' specialized knowledge for teaching mathematics and illustrates how such research could be conducted. Participants completing 2 DMI modules were compared with similar colleagues who had not taken DMI. Teacher knowledge was measured with multiple-choice items developed by the Learning Mathematics for Teaching project and open-ended items based on problems initially developed by DMI experts. After controlling for pretest scores, a hierarchical linear model identified statistically significant differences: The DMI group outperformed the comparison group on both assessments. Gains in teachers' scores on the more closely aligned measure were related to the degree of facilitator experience with DMI. This study adds to our understanding of the ways in which professional development program features, facilitators, and issues of scale interact in the development of teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching. Study limitations and challenges are discussed.
Daniel J. Heck, Eric R. Banilower, Iris R. Weiss and Sharyn L. Rosenberg
Enacting the vision of NCTM's Principles and Standards for School Mathematics depends on effective teacher professional development. This 7-year study of 48 projects in the National Science Foundation's Local Systemic Change Through Teacher Enhancement Initiative investigates the relationship between professional development and teachers' attitudes, preparedness, and classroom practices in mathematics. These programs included many features considered to characterize effective professional development: content focus, extensive and sustained duration, and connection to practice and to influences on teachers' practice. Results provide evidence of positive impact on teacher-reported attitudes toward, preparedness for, and practice of Standards-based teaching, despite the fact that many teachers did not participate in professional development to the extent intended. Teachers' perception of their principals' support for Standards-based mathematics instruction was also positively related to these outcomes.
Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein
Professional Development Guidebook for Perspectives on the Teaching of Mathematics: Companion to the Sixty-sixth Yearbook, pp. 45-72. Reston, Va.: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2004. The Taking Action series ( Boston, Dillon, Smith and Miller