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Iris Weiss Barbara Miller Horizon Research, Inc. Education Development Center. Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics: What do we know and how well do we know it?.

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professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it
Iris Weiss Barbara Miller

Horizon Research, Inc. Education Development Center

Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics: What do we know and how well do we know it?
msp knowledge management and dissemination project
Goal: To synthesize knowledge generated through the Math and Science Partnerships and integrate it into the broader knowledge base for education reform

Deepening Teacher Content Knowledge

Teachers as Intellectual Leaders

Involvement of STEM faculty

Professional Learning Communities

MSP Knowledge Management and Dissemination Project
slide3
A new mathematics district leader, with responsibility for mathematics professional development, comes to you for advice: What should I do to support a solid and effective professional development program across my district?
slide4
There are many things you are now thinking about. Your task is to talk at your table with others about what specific pieces of advice you might offer.

I’ll ask you to share out from your table a single idea for which there was reasonable consensus.

slide5
A new mathematics district leader, with responsibility for mathematics professional development, comes to you for advice: What should I do to support a solid and effective professional development program across my district?
slide6
Why to engage in professional development? What are the goals?

What to do in professional development? What are the strategies?

Who will lead professional development? What is the delivery?

What are the conditions for professional development? What are the resources?

what do we know
Professional development design and implementation is complex, with many decisions to make.

Decisions are interrelated.

Our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs – we always want to do more in professional development than we are able to do.

What do we know?
what do we want to know
What do we want to know?

1. Is professional development important?

2. What are effective professional development strategies?

3. For which teachers are those strategies effective, and under what conditions?

simplified logic model for professional development
Simplified Logic Model for Professional Development

Professional

Development

Teaching

Practice

Student

Outcomes

Teacher

Knowledge

and Skills

teacher content knowledge matters
Teacher content knowledge matters…

Professional

Development

Teaching

Practice

Student

Outcomes

Teacher

Content

Knowledge

  • For teaching practice:
  • Selecting content to emphasize
  • Selecting instructional strategies and sequence
  • Selecting assessment tasks
  • Implementing curriculum materials
teacher content knowledge matters1
Teacher content knowledge matters…

Professional

Development

Teaching

Practice

Student

Outcomes

Teacher

Content

Knowledge

For student learning:

Students of teachers with stronger content knowledge have higher achievement scores than other students, in particular on measures of conceptual understanding.

so if tck matters
So if TCK matters…

What do we know about deepening teacher content knowledge?

facets of teacher content knowledge
Facets of Teacher Content Knowledge
  • Disciplinary content knowledge
  • Pedagogical content knowledge
  • Ways of knowing content
what facets of content to choose in content focused pd
What facets of content to choose in content-focused PD
  • Most people seem to agree that all of these facets are important for teaching
  • With unlimited time and resources, you would likely address them all
  • But we don’t have unlimited time and resources, so choices have to be made
plan a pd program
Plan a PD program
  • Middle grades mathematics teachers
  • Focus on algebraic thinking
  • 30 hour PD workshop in the summer
  • There will also be an academic-year component, but we’re not concerned with that right now.
sequencing pd goals
Sequencing PD Goals

One line of reasoning:

  • Teachers can’t learn to teach what they don’t know. Therefore, it is important to start with mathematics content, and only after teachers themselves have a sufficiently deep understanding of the content, move to considering classroom application.
sequencing pd goals1
Sequencing PD Goals

Another line of reasoning:

  • Teachers are by their very nature practitioners. Starting with classroom applications, e.g., trying to analyze student work, provides a purpose and context for engaging the teachers in learning mathematics content.
sequencing pd goals2
Sequencing PD Goals
  • Available research does not indicate which approach is “better” under a particular set of conditions.
msp kmd review of research
MSP KMD Review of Research

Identified more than 1000 “studies” on PD to deepen teacher mathematics content-related knowledge

msp kmd review of research1
MSP KMD Review of Research

However, approximately 90% of the studies were screened out because:

They were advocacy or opinion pieces, not research, and/or

They were studies of pre-service teachers only, and/or

They did not include a measure (quantitative or qualitative) of teacher content knowledge.

msp kmd review of research2
MSP KMD Review of Research

Applied standards of evidence to 28 studies of mathematics PD, those that were not simply opinion or advocacy pieces and actually measured teacher content knowledge

what research tells us
What research tells us
  • Available research points to some elements of effective PD, but provides very little guidance about how to design and implement PD for particular purposes in particular kinds of situations.
example 1
Example 1

Opportunities to learn about student mathematics curricula were positively related to…

  • reports of classroom practices advocated in the California mathematics frameworks; and
  • student performance.

Cohen & Hill, 2000

example 2
Example 2
  • Longer duration/more contact hours; and
  • Opportunity to engage in mathematical analysis, reasoning, and communication

… were positively related to teacher learning of mathematics content knowledge for teaching.

Hill & Ball, 2004

example 3
Example 3
  • Focus on a specific practice/set of practices
  • Coherence with other PD
  • Active learning opportunities
  • Collective participation of teachers
  • “Reform types” of PD focused on higher order instructional/assessment practices

…were positively related to changes in teachers’ instruction, assessment, and/or technology practices.

Desimone, Porter, Garet, Yoon, & Birman, 2002

an emerging consensus effective pd
An Emerging ConsensusEffective PD:
  • Focuses on content knowledge and how students learn content
  • Involves a substantial number of hours
  • Sustains focus over time
  • Models effective practice, including active learning experiences
  • Engages teachers in communities of learning
  • Involves active participation of school leaders
study in progress
Study in progress

A randomized controlled trial is testing the consensus view with a PD program that includes…

  • Substantial number of contact hours over a full-year duration, including summer institutes, academic year seminars and in-school coaching
  • Focus on developing teachers’ content and pedagogical content knowledge
  • Collective participation of teachers in a school
preliminary findings
Preliminary findings

After one year, the study found impact on …

  • Teachers’ use of instructional practices to elicit student thinking

But no statistically significant impact on …

  • Teacher content knowledge,
  • Teachers’ use of representations in instruction,
  • Teachers’ focus on mathematics reasoning in instruction,
  • Student achievement.

Garet et al., 2010

to explain these results one might consider whether
To explain these results,one might consider whether
  • The content was appropriate for these teachers
  • The instruments were sensitive to impacts that were occurring
  • There was sufficient time for impacts to occur
an alternative explanation
An alternative explanation
  • The current understanding of PD effectiveness is incorrect or underspecified.
why don t we know more from the empirical research
Why don’t we know more from the empirical research?

In applying standards of evidence, we often found vague or incomplete documentation of programs or interventions.

Consequently, we know something worked, but we don’t know a lot about what “it” was.

why don t we know more
Why don’t we know more?

Studies tended to be more like program evaluations rather than research on particular strategies.

Consequently, we know the overall experience worked, but we don’t know how much particular interventions contributed to the gains.

why don t we know more1
Why don’t we know more?

We often found serious limitations with study research designs, including:

Selection bias in samples and contexts

Lack of comparison groups or criteria

Idiosyncratic instrumentation, without evidence of validity/reliability/credibility

why don t we know more2
Why don’t we know more?

There are too few studies of any one phenomenon to be able to have confidence in the robustness of the findings in any case.

High quality research is expensive, which may explain why so many in-depth studies in the literature involved fewer than 5 teachers.

why don t we know more3
Why don’t we know more?

There is a tension between design for change and design for learning.

From a system change perspective, if you plan on having two cohorts, it makes sense to start with the schools that are “ready.”

But doing so makes research on program effectiveness problematic; it will not be possible to disentangle the effects of differences in readiness from the impact of the interventions.

why don t we know more4
Why don’t we know more?

Even when individual studies are well-designed and well-implemented, it is difficult to look across them and figure out the extent to which the findings might generalize.

there is a difference between
There is a difference between…
  • What has worked
  • What will work in my context
filling the gap
Filling the gap
  • “Sensible propositions” can provide guidance and serve as hypotheses for research
  • MSP-KMD project developed a methodology for collecting and vetting practice-based insights.
comparing empirical research and practice based insights
Comparing Empirical Research and Practice-based Insights

We were surprised at how little guidance the available research provides and how much guidance expert practice provides, although without the backing that empirical research would provide.

**

comparing empirical research and practice based insights1
Comparing Empirical Research and Practice-based Insights

Empirical findings tend to be larger grain size; practice-based insights tend to be more contextualized and nuanced.

slide41
Research + Practice = Guidance

in designing and implementing

professional development

Focus on teacher leaders as one part of a professional development program

what do we know from research on teacher leaders
Teacher leaders matter in terms of impacting teachers’ classroom practice, with limited evidence that TL work impacts students.

Teacher leader work takes different forms (e.g., leading pd, modeling lesson, planning)

What do we know from research on teacher leaders?
what do we know from practice based insights on teacher leaders
Articulate the purpose and nature of TL practice(s)

Each TL shouldn’t figure this out individually

Not the time to “let 1000 flowers bloom” because impossible to support

Impact is diluted when focus is dispersed

Trade-off between clear, shared articulation and local response

What do we know from practice-based insights on teacher leaders?
what do we know from practice based insights on teacher leaders1
Make decisions based on available resources and adjust program accordingly

TL practice should fit available time for working with teachers

TL practice should be calibrated to available support from school, district, beyond

Trade-off between “playing with the cards you’re dealt” and “pushing the envelope”

What do we know from practice-based insights on teacher leaders?
task 1
You want teacher leaders to be leading school-based professional development in department and faculty meetings and district-wide professional development in after-school and summer workshops. Given this, who do you select as TLs?Task 1
task 11
2. Your selection process yields TLs who are enthusiastic, have credibility with their colleagues, have limited prior experience leading professional development, and display a wide range of content knowledge. Given this, how do you think about preparing TLs for the practice of leading professional development? Task 1
task 12
3. There is limited time and even fewer resources to devote to preparing these TLs to lead professional development. Given this, how do you think about the intended TL practice?Task 1
task 2
In your experience with teacher leaders as part of a professional development program, what was the alignment between TL practice, TL selection, and TL preparation?

Where did the alignment break apart (and wishful thinking take its place)?

Construct your own triangle and identify how/whether each is aligned.

Task 2
slide51
TL practice

TL preparation TL selection

what do we know from practice based insights on teacher leaders3
Develop alignment among TL selection, preparation and practice

Intended TL practice is an important first consideration

Selecting fewer, highly-qualified TLs may be preferable to selecting larger numbers of less-qualified candidates

Be clear about content knowledge needed for TL practice and whether it is a realistic selection criteria or preparation expectation

Trade-off between TL practice, selection and preparation

What do we know from practice-based insights on teacher leaders?
kmd resources
KMD Resources
  • Knowledge reviews on TCK, TL and STEM
  • Measures of teacher content knowledge
  • Sustainability cases on TCK and TL

www.mspkmd.net

sample knowledge reviews
Sample Knowledge Reviews

Teacher knowledge: Engaging with challenging mathematics/science content

Selecting teacher leaders

Involving STEM disciplinary faculty in deepening teacher/teacher leader content knowledge

how you can contribute
How you can contribute
  • Use the best evidence available;
  • Document your treatment, including types of teacher content knowledge addressed, in what ways, in what sequence, etc.;
  • Describe your participants and your context;
  • Monitor how well it worked and how you know;
  • Share results/lessons learned with the field.
references
REFERENCES
  • Cohen, D. K. & Hill, H. C. (2000). Instructional policy and classroom performance: The mathematics reform in California. Teachers College Record, 102(2), 294–343.
  • Desimone, L. M., Porter, A. C., Garet, M. S., Yoon, K. S., & Birman, B. F. (2002). Effects of professional development on teachers’ instruction: Results from a three-year longitudinal study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(2), 81–112.
  • Garet, M. S., Wayne, A. J., Stancavage, F., Taylor, J., Walters, K., Song, M., Brown, S., Hurlburt, S., Zhu, P., Sepanik, S., Doolittle, F., & Warner, E. (2010). Middle school mathematics professional development impact study: Findings after the first year of implementation (NCEE 2010-4009). Alexandria, VA: U.S. Department of Education.
  • Hill, H. C. & Ball, D. L. (2004). Learning mathematics for teaching: Results from California\'s mathematics professional development Institutes. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 35(5), 330–351.
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