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Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 102, Issue 3, pp 319–342 | Cite as

Scaling up innovative learning in mathematics: exploring the effect of different professional development approaches on teacher knowledge, beliefs, and instructional practice

  • Daniel J. Heck
  • Courtney L. Plumley
  • Despina A. StylianouEmail author
  • Adrienne A. Smith
  • Gwendolyn Moffett
Article

Abstract

Professional learning experiences (PLEs) provide teachers with opportunities to improve their understanding of mathematics content and teaching practices. However, PLEs are often conducted in person and in small groups—hence costly and localized. The purpose of the current study was to explore different ways for teachers to engage in PLEs and how these approaches might enable the field to scale up these efforts in a sustainable manner. We compared the impact of three PLE formats on the early algebra knowledge and teaching practices of elementary mathematics teachers: (1) a facilitated summer workshop, (2) a multimedia course completed on teachers’ own time, and (3) learning resources provided in the algebra curriculum unit that teachers used individually. Our findings suggest that all three formats can be mapped against a set of principles for quality professional learning. Analysis of pre- and post-treatment measures indicate that participating teachers’ knowledge of algebra content and best practices significantly increased, regardless of the PLE format with which they engaged. Interviews with a subset of the teachers from the three groups point to the key features of each of the formats that can be capitalized on by designers of PLEs.

Keywords

Large-scale implementation Professional development Elementary mathematics Algebraic reasoning Professional learning experiences 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0822034. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We acknowledge the contributions of Catherine T. Fosnot who was the Principal Investigator of project DELTA (Digital Environments for the Learning and Teaching of Algebra) as well as Maarten Dolk, Kara Imm and Bill Jacob who facilitated workshops for teachers and wrote the units and workshop materials. We also acknowledge the work of former DELTA project staff and advisory board: Maria Blanton, Loren Pitt, Marty Simon, Eve Torrence, and Murray Wickwire.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Horizon Research, Inc.Chapel HillUSA
  2. 2.The City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Cynosure ConsultingApexUSA

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