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IES Grant

Title: Advancing Middle School Teachers' Understanding of Proportional Reasoning for Teaching
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Copur-Gencturk, Yasemin Awardee: University of Southern California
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $1,399,982
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A180392

Co-Principal Investigator: Nye, Benjamin; Orrill, Chandra; Cohen, Allan

Purpose: A key strategy for addressing students' poor mathematics achievement is to improve professional learning opportunities for middle school teachers. Researchers propose to develop an interactive, personalized computer-based professional development intervention to increase middle school teachers' content knowledge of proportional reasoning and pedagogical content knowledge of proportional reasoning and, in turn, improve their students' understanding of proportional reasoning.

Project Activities: In Phase 1, researchers will develop the initial intervention module content and initial diagnostic items based on information from a small group of professional development specialists and middle school teachers. In Phase 2, they will develop and pilot the diagnostic and summative measures to be integrated into the personalization function of the intervention and test the initial in-person version of the intervention (i.e., modules and dialogue feedback loops). In Phase 3, researchers will refine the intervention and test the initial virtual version of the intervention (i.e., modules and virtual facilitator). In Phase 4, 25 teachers will participate in the new iteration of the intervention and the interactive function of the intervention. In Phase 4, 70 teachers and their 3,500 students will participate in the pilot study of the full virtual intervention.

Products: Researchers will produce a fully developed professional development intervention for middle school math teachers and peer-reviewed publications. Researchers will make the intervention materials publicly available on the project website for both research purposes and general use. They will share findings via blog as well as mail and e-mail to mathematics curriculum leaders and instructional leaders in the 250 largest school districts in the country and to national and local conferences for math teachers.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in six states (from Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Texas) in urban, small city, and rural areas.

Sample: In Phases 1 through 4, researchers will conduct iterative development with 10 professional development specialists and 70 middle school teachers. In Phase 2, 150 middle school teachers will participate in the development of diagnostic and summative measures. In the pilot study in Year 4, 70 teachers and their 3,500 students will participate in the study.

Intervention: Teachers will participate in a 2-module sequence designed to increase their content and pedagogical content knowledge of proportional reasoning. Each module will begin with diagnostic questions drawn from existing research and developed by the project team to assign teachers to specific submodules aligned with their current level of mathematical knowledge, and the submodules will provide participants with individualized learning experiences based on their needs.

Research Design and Methods: During Years 1–3, the research team will iteratively develop and test the interventions. During Year 4, they will conduct a cluster randomized controlled pilot study with random assignment at the teacher level.

Control Condition: The control condition will be business as usual.

Key Measures: Researchers will measure student learning using a form created from released items from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), Trends in Mathematics and Science (TIMSS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the two Common Core-aligned national assessments: PARCC, and Smarter Balanced. Teacher content knowledge of proportional reasoning will be measured by the Learning Mathematics for Teaching Project and a researcher-developed measure. Teacher pedagogical content knowledge will be measured by the Classroom Video Analysis Measure. Teacher mathematical quality of instruction will be measured by the Instructional Quality Assessment Assignment Tool.

Data Analytic Strategy: During the development process, researchers will use feedback from teachers, PD facilitators, mathematics coaches, and Advisory Board members to revise the intervention to improve its usability, feasibility, and effectiveness. For the pilot study, researchers will use multilevel modeling to examine changes in teachers' content and pedagogical content knowledge and mathematical quality of instruction (compared with a control group), as well as changes in students' mathematics achievement.