Eric.ed.gov – Designing Professional Development around Key Principles and Formative Assessments to Improve Teachers’ Knowledge to Teach Mathematics

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The authors’ hypothesis is that if teachers (as experts) understand and teach concepts from the position of expertise teacher quality will improve. They believe that focusing on the key ideas will deepen both teacher and student understanding and allow learners to build the concepts necessary to form solid foundations for the application of mathematics both in and out of school. But such methods of instruction often require that teachers learn to reorganize and teach fundamental concepts in more expert-like ways. Because many teachers were taught in a system that stressed procedure rather than conceptual understanding, and the dearth of guidance on how teachers might change their teaching in this manner, such change may be difficult. Building on the expert-novice literature, and the findings by Carpenter, Fenamya, Levi, Franke, and Empson (2000) using cognitively guided instruction, and research on formative assessment, they developed a program of professional development designed to help teachers conceptualize mathematics instruction and improve their ability to effectively use formative assessment data in the 6th grade math classroom. Both the formative assessments and the professional development were designed around a collection of big ideas developed by content experts and math educators. The program of professional development supports a larger formative assessment effort as part of a US Department of Education sponsored program called PowerSource. Their ultimate goal is to demonstrate that the professional development methods they advocate improve student proficiency in algebra. Initially, however, they must demonstrate that their efforts actually improve near-term teacher content knowledge organization and have demonstrable effects on teacher ability to use formative assessment results. Their results suggest that both the way teachers organize their content knowledge and the way they evaluate student work changes in important ways. Even with the positive trends, however, the authors’ findings suggest that nine hours of professional development may not be enough to produce the degree of change anticipated. As the literature suggests, producing change in teacher pedagogical practice requires sustained and intense efforts. These results suggest areas where important changes might be made such as a more intense focus on pedagogical methods, replacing in-situ curriculum with more conceptually appropriate instruction, and providing focused problems that teachers can use for sustained practice in their classrooms. In addition, the authors intend to use more powerful Heirarchical Linear Models (HLM) to account for the degree of participation in professional development activities and to observe the degree of actual classroom implementation of PowerSource.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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