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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


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

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?


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

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.


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

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?


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

Why to engage in professional development? What are the mathematics professional development, comes to you for advice: What should I do to support a solid and effective professional development program across my district?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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.Professional Development

Professional

Development

Teaching

Practice

Student

Outcomes

Teacher

Knowledge

and Skills


Teacher content knowledge matters
Teacher content knowledge matters… complex, with many decisions to make.

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… complex, with many decisions to make.

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… complex, with many decisions to make.

What do we know about deepening teacher content knowledge?


Facets of teacher content knowledge
Facets of complex, with many decisions to make.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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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


Msp kmd review of research1
MSP KMD Review of Research complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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 Consensus complex, with many decisions to make.Effective 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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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, complex, with many decisions to make.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 complex, with many decisions to make.

  • 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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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? complex, with many decisions to make.

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… complex, with many decisions to make.

  • What has worked

  • What will work in my context


Filling the gap
Filling the gap complex, with many decisions to make.

  • “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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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 complex, with many decisions to make.

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


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

Research + Practice = Guidance complex, with many decisions to make.

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 research on teacher leaders1

Little guidance in terms of choosing particular practice, how to implement it, or under what conditions.

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) how to implement it, or under what conditions.

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?


What do we know from practice based insights on teacher leaders2

Develop alignment among TL selection, TL preparation and TL practice

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. 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?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. 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?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


Professional development for teachers of mathematics what do we know and how well do we know it

TL practice professional development program, what was the alignment between TL practice, TL selection, and TL preparation?

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 practice

  • 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 practice

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 practice

  • 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 practice

  • 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.