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IES Grant

Title: Prime Online: Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Research-based Practice in Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms
Center: NCSER Year: 2010
Principal Investigator: Griffin, Cynthia Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Educators and School-Based Service Providers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 8/16/10–8/15/13 Award Amount: $1,457,085
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A100196

Purpose: According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 85 percent of students without disabilities in fourth grade scored above Basic in mathematics in 2007. However, only 60 percent of students with disabilities achieved this minimal standard. Strong research evidence reveals that a substantial part of the variability in student achievement gains is due to the effectiveness of a given teacher. This finding could be explained in part by differences in teachers' mathematical content knowledge, or an underestimation of the skill required for teachers to deliver effective instruction for students with disabilities. To address this need, the research team will develop an online professional development intervention, Prime Online, intended to improve the content and pedagogical knowledge of in-service regular and special education teachers of mathematics in grades 3–5. This intervention will be aligned with National Council for Teachers of Mathematics standards and it will have an emphasis on instructional practices for students struggling in mathematics. Additionally, the intervention will incorporate progress monitoring strategies intended to improve mathematics outcomes for students.

Project Activities: The research team will use an iterative design process to develop Prime Online. In phase 1, the research team will develop the program using the Moodle E-Learning Course Development software. During this phase, the research team will also develop new data collection instruments (e.g., satisfaction survey, focus group interviews) and adapt existing instruments (e.g., teacher observation measures) for use in this research. The next two phases of the research involve two design studies; the first study will examine five pairs of general and special education teachers as they participate in the program, and several rounds of focus groups and individual interviews will be conducted to collect data that will inform the refinement of the intervention. The second study will be a pre-post design study of 15 pairs of teachers participating in the revised version of the program. Data will be collected on the impact of the program on teacher and student outcomes.

Products: The products from this study will include the fully developed Prime Online professional development program and reports on the potential efficacy of Prime Online. Prime Online will be assessed for improvements in teachers' content knowledge for mathematics teaching, their instructional practices in mathematics classrooms, and their students' mathematics learning.


Setting: Teachers will be recruited from public elementary schools in north central Florida.

Population: The participants include a total of 40 general and special education teachers working in third through fifth grade mathematics classrooms that include students with learning disabilities. Students of participating teachers will also be recruited to participate.

Intervention: The Prime Online program will include an integrated series of 20 online professional development modules that address: (a) mathematics content based on the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics Focal Points and the Florida Sunshine State Standards; (b) pedagogical content knowledge for teaching elementary mathematics grounded in explicit strategy instruction emphasizing self-regulated learning; (c) the needs of students with learning disabilities included in general education mathematics classrooms; and (d) the use of progress monitoring assessment practices within a framework of teacher research.

Research Design and Methods: The iterative development process occurs over three phases of research. In phase 1, the online program modules will be developed using Moodle E-Learning Course Development software. This software provides features that promote extensive interaction among students and instructors including interactive activities and social resources such as forums and wikis. Data collection instruments will also be developed or adapted from existing measures. During phase 2, the program will be implemented with five pairs of general and special education teachers, and qualitative and quantitative data will be collected to assess how well the Prime Online program is functioning and to provide feedback for program revision. In phase 3, data will be collected on the feasibility and usability of the Prime Online intervention. Additionally, data will be collected on the promise of the intervention for improving teachers' content knowledge for mathematics teaching, their instructional practices in mathematics classrooms, and their students' mathematics learning.

Control Condition: There is no control condition.

Key Measures: Measures include a teacher satisfaction survey and logs of teacher online program access and usage. Scoring rubrics will be used to examine the assignments completed by the teacher participants as part of the online modules. The Classroom Observation Protocol will be used to examine the impact of the program on classroom instructional practices, and the Teacher Instructional Practices and Beliefs Survey will be used to measure teacher content knowledge and reported practices and beliefs about mathematical teaching and learning. Student mathematics achievement will be measured with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Data Analytic Strategy: Data will be analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Qualitative pattern analysis of teacher reports will be used to identify common themes related to implementation issues, perceived feasibility and usability, and suggestions for improving the program. Descriptive statistics will be used to describe program satisfaction and evaluate the online access and usage. Quantitative analyses include analysis of variance and repeated measures analysis of variance to examine the impact of the Prime Online program on teacher and student outcome variables.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Dana, N.F., Pape, S.J., Griffin, C.C., & Prosser, S. (2016). The role of practitioner inquiry in online professional development for elementary teachers of mathematics: The Prime Online experience. Professional Development in Education, 42, 1–20.

Pape, S. J., Prosser, S. K., Griffin, C. C., Dana, N. F., Algina, J., & Bae, J. (2015). Prime Online: Developing grades 3–5 teachers' content knowledge for teaching mathematics in an online professional development program. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 15 (1). Retrieved from