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Two large-scale professional development programs for mathematics teachers and their impact on student achievement
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Educational Sciences and Mathematics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2964-6297
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, ISSN 1571-0068, E-ISSN 1573-1774, Vol. 5, no 7, p. 1281-1301Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports on two professional development programs for mathematics teachers and their effects on student achievement. The projects’ design and their implementation within a larger municipality in Sweden, working together with over 90 teachers and 5000 students in elementary school, are described by using a set of core critical features of teacher professional development as identified in the research literature. Data on student achievement were collected at the beginning of the projects as well as one year after their implementation. The results demonstrate a significant interaction effect between year and intervention for grades 2, 8, and 9. Upon a closer examination of the descriptive statistics, the first project points at slight improvements for students in grade 2, while the results for grades 8 and 9 indicate a declining trend. The results for the second project are markedly different and indicate an improvement for student achievement in grades 8 and 9, while the results for grade 2 suggest a deterioration. Considering that both projects are conducted within the same context and are very similar when it comes to several of the critical features of professional development as identified in the research literature, these variances in results are noteworthy. Therefore, building on a closer examination of the projects’ critical features, the Swedish educational context, and results from teacher evaluations, the article ends with a discussion of possible explanations for the variations found between, as well as within, the two projects’ differing impact on student achievement.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 5, no 7, p. 1281-1301
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-31449DOI: 10.1007/s10763-016-9750-xISI: 000410769000006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84969786552OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-31449DiVA, id: diva2:921869
Available from: 2016-04-21 Created: 2016-04-21 Last updated: 2017-12-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Supporting instructional improvement at scale: The role of teacher professional development programs and mathematics curriculum materials
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Supporting instructional improvement at scale: The role of teacher professional development programs and mathematics curriculum materials
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

We are currently witnessing an increase of international interest in mathematics education, fueled partly by the growing concerns of students’ declining results, but also by changed perceptions of what mathematics students should master. In response, many initiatives have appeared in order to move away from traditional to more inquiry based approaches to teaching. Though several small-scale studies have contributed much to our understanding on how to support teachers in this work, there is still a lack of research conducted on a larger scale. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to add to our knowledge of how to support instructional improvement at scale. This is done by focusing on two common approaches to support mathematics teachers’ development of reform based practices: teacher professional development [PD] programs and curriculum materials. The thesis builds on four papers which are all connected to a project aiming at improving the mathematics instruction in a large Swedish municipality. The project includes a PD-program for almost 400 elementary teachers and the mathematics curriculum materials that teachers are using play a central role in the program. The first two papers focus on curriculum materials either by using surveys to compare teachers’ views of the support offered in the materials and their reported mathematics instruction, or by conducting textbook analyses to characterize how some commonly used materials communicate about, for example, goals of lessons. The results demonstrate that teachers using different materials experience different levels of support from them and also show variations in their reported instruction. These differences are further reflected in the textbook analyses which show that the materials offer teachers various support, for example regarding how they communicate about goals. The last two papers focus on teacher PD-programs either by comparing the effects of two programs on student achievement, or by using surveys to examine teachers’ views of one of the programs and its impact on their reported instruction. The results indicate that the two PD-programs have affected students’ achievement in different ways, demonstrating both decline and improvement. Even within the programs differences are revealed between students at the primary and secondary levels. These variations are further present in the teacher surveys, where the results show differences between teachers from different grade-levels. By drawing on the literature review and the results of the papers, the thesis ends with a discussion of possible elaborations of a widely used core conceptual framework for studying teacher PD.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2016
Series
Mälardalen University Press Licentiate Theses, ISSN 1651-9256 ; 231
Keywords
large-scale teacher professional development, core conceptual framework, mathematics curriculum materials, student achievement, mathematics instruction
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-31441 (URN)978-91-7485-265-3 (ISBN)
Presentation
2016-06-08, Kappa, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-04-21 Created: 2016-04-20 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved
2. Critical features and impacts of mathematics teacher professional development programs: Comparing and characterizing programs implemented at scale
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Critical features and impacts of mathematics teacher professional development programs: Comparing and characterizing programs implemented at scale
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the knowledge base on conceptualizations and impacts of teacher professional development (PD) programs. This is done by studying the case of two large-scale teacher PD programs. The first was mandatory for all public elementary school mathematics teachers in a larger Swedish municipality, and the second has been completed by 76% of all elementary school mathematics teachers in Sweden. In the municipality, and during the time frame in which this study was conducted, it was possible to make a comparison between teachers participating in different programs. Data on the programs’ impacts on teachers, instruction, and student achievement were gathered both immediately and one year after the teachers’ participation in one of them. In other words, the context of the study created an opportunity to respond to recent calls for studies that (a) examine the impacts of PD programs implemented on a larger scale, (b) adhere to PD programs’ impacts on teachers, instruction, and student achievement, (c) examine the sustainability of PD programs’ impacts, and (d) attend to variations within and between PD programs’ impacts. The results show that the studied programs are highly similar if characterized according to established research frameworks on what constitutes critical features of teacher PD. At the same time, they demonstrate different impacts, both between the programs and within them. These results suggested an elaboration of two of the five critical features of teacher PD: Content Focus and Coherence. Through the development and application of a more finely grained tool to characterize the programs’ Content Focus, differences between their characteristics were detected. Together with a systematic review of the PD research literature on Coherence, these results formed a basis for discussing plausible reasons for the difference in the programs’ impacts as well as elaborating on the critical features of Content Focus and Coherence. In summary, the thesis contributes: (a) empirical results in relation to large-scale teacher PD programs’ impacts; (b) methodological results in the form of tools for characterizing PD programs’ Content Focus and Coherence; and (c) theoretical results, as it examines established frameworks for characterizing teacher PD programs by using them in practice and, in light of the results, also suggests an elaboration of them.

Abstract [sv]

I denna avhandling har två storskaliga kompetensutvecklingsprogram (KUP) för lärare använts som fall för att bidra till kunskap om kritiska aspekter av sådana program samt deras inverkan på lärare, undervisning och elevresultat. Det första programmet, Räkna med Västerås (RäV), var obligatoriskt för alla kommunala grundskolelärare som undervisade i matematik i kommunen. Det andra programmet, Matematiklyftet, har genomförts av 76 % av alla grundskolelärare i Sverige som undervisar i matematik. Under den tidsperiod som studien genomfördes var det möjligt att göra en jämförelse mellan programmen, då det vid tillfället fanns lärare i kommunen som antingen deltagit i RäV, Matematiklyftet, eller inget program alls. Data gällande programmens inverkan på lärare, undervisning och elevresultat samlades in både direkt och ett år efter lärarnas deltagande. Med andra ord gjorde studiens kontext det möjligt att svara upp mot nyliga uppmaningar om att det behövs fler studier som studerar: (a) inverkan av KUP som genomförts i större skala, (b) KUPs inverkan på lärare, undervisning och elevresultat, (c) KUPs långsiktiga inverkan, och (d) variationen mellan olika KUPs inverkan. Resultaten visar att de studerade programmen är ytterst lika om de karaktäriseras enligt etablerade ramverk om vad som utgör kritiska faktorer av KUP för lärare, samtidigt som de visar på olika inverkan på lärare, undervisning och elevresultat. I ljuset av dessa resultat föreslås en utveckling av två kritiska aspekter gällande KUP för lärare: innehållsfokus och samstämmighet. Genom att utveckla ett mer finkänsligt verktyg för att karaktärisera programmens innehållsfokus upptäcktes också skillnader mellan dem. Tillsammans med en systematisk litteraturöversikt av forskningslitteraturen kring ”samstämmighet” utgjorde dessa resultat en bas för att diskutera möjliga förklaringar till skillnaderna i programmens inverkan, samt en utveckling av de kritiska aspekterna innehållsfokus och samstämmighet. Sammantaget bidrar denna avhandling med: (a) empiriska resultat i förhållande till storskaliga KUPs inverkan, (b) metodologiska resultat i form av verktyg för att karaktärisera KUPs innehållsfokus och samstämmighet, och (c) teoretiska resultat då etablerade ramverk för att karaktärisera KUPs har studerats genom praktisk användning och i ljuset av resultaten föreslås även utvecklingar av dem. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Västerås: Mälardalen University, 2017
Series
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 249
Keywords
critical features, mathematics, teacher professional development
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-37298 (URN)978-91-7485-364-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-01-19, Zeta, Mälardalens högskola, Västerås, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-11-23 Created: 2017-11-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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