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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy of Prime Online: Teacher Professional Development for Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms
Center: NCSER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Griffin, Cynthia Awardee: University of Florida
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (08/15/2018-08/14/2022) Award Amount: $3,276,003
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A180135

Co-Principal Investigators: Algina, James; Dana, Nancy; Leite, Walter

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to test the efficacy of Prime Online, an online teacher professional development (PD) intervention to improve teachers' knowledge and practice and students' mathematics achievement. Research suggests that a substantial portion of the variability in students' mathematics achievement is related to the quality of teachers' instruction. However, little is known about effective ways to improve teachers' mathematics teaching, especially with students who struggle with mathematics. The current study will evaluate the efficacy of Prime Online PD for improving teacher knowledge of mathematics content, self-efficacy for teaching mathematics, knowledge and skills for implementing evidence-based teaching practices and student progress monitoring. The study will also examine whether these changes in teacher knowledge, skills, and dispositions impact changes in learning outcomes for students with mathematics learning disabilities (MLD) and students with mathematics difficulty (MD).

Project Activities: A randomized controlled trial design will be used to evaluate the efficacy of Prime Online. Researchers will recruit 120 fourth grade teachers across two cohorts and randomly assign teachers to either the Prime Online intervention group or the business-as-usual control group. Teachers in each cohort will receive the PD for one full year. Data on outcome variables will be collected prior to the start of Prime Online PD and after the intervention and analyzed to determine whether Prime Online leads to improvements in teacher and student outcomes. Researchers will also examine key variables that may moderate or mediate intervention effects of Prime Online.

Products: This project will produce evidence of the efficacy of Prime Online for fourth grade teachers and students with mathematics disabilities and difficulties, peer-reviewed publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in elementary schools across the state of Florida.

Sample: Approximately 120 fourth grade teachers with general and/or special education certification who teach general education, grade-level, and mathematics curricula to students with and without MLD and students with MD will participate in the study. In addition, approximately 1,800 students with and without disabilities, including 240–480 students with MLD and MD, will participate.

Intervention:Prime Online is year-long, fully-online PD intervention composed of 35 learning modules. Learning modules are designed to build teachers' (a) content knowledge for teaching mathematics, (b) understanding of the learning needs of students with MLD and MD, and (c) knowledge of and skill in using mathematics evidence-based practices and progress monitoring tools. The PD modules are organized in the following three segments: (1) Building the Foundation for Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms; (2) Deepening Mathematics Content and Pedagogy; and (3) Studying the Application of Newly Learned Mathematics Content and Pedagogy to Student Learning. Each module includes a consistent format with four components: Introduction, Anticipatory Activity, Content and Discussion, and Classroom Connections. Modules will be completed sequentially with the first nine modules completed in the summer prior to the beginning of the school year.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use a randomized controlled trial to study the efficacy of Prime Online. Two cohorts of 120 teachers each will be recruited and randomly assigned to either the Prime Online PD or business-as-usual control group. The first cohort will receive the PD in Year 2 and the second in Year 3. Data will be collected to understand the impact of the PD on teacher beliefs about students with disabilities, classroom teaching practices, content knowledge for teaching mathematics, teaching self-efficacy, and classroom instruction. Data will also be collected to understand the impact on students' mathematics achievement and to test mediators and moderators of intervention impacts.

Control Condition: Teachers in the business-as-usual control group will receive typical PD offered by their school districts. After completion of the study, comparison teachers will have access to Prime Online, including all materials.

Key Measures: Teacher outcomes will be assessed using the following measures: Content Knowledge for Teaching Mathematics (CKTM) measure, the Mathematics Teaching Efficacy Belief Instrument (MTEBI), Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI; to assess videos of instruction), and researcher-created measures to assess beliefs and practices (Prime Online Beliefs Questionnaire, the Prime Online Practices Questionnaire). Student mathematics outcomes will be assessed using the Test for Understanding Fractions (TUF) and the state assessment in mathematics, the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).

Data Analytic Strategy: The researchers will use analyses of covariance to examine the impact of the PD on teacher and student outcomes. Structural equation modeling (SEM) will be used to examine moderators including baseline levels of outcomes, teacher and student characteristics, and fidelity. They will also use SEM to explore whether changes in teacher outcomes mediate intervention effects on student mathematics achievement.  

Related IES Projects: Prime Online: Teacher Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Research-based Practice in Inclusive Elementary Mathematics Classrooms (R324A100196)