Description: A recent literature review of rigorous studies found only limited support for the assertion that teacher professional development (PD) in mathematics can improve student mathematics performance. This study adds to the limited evidence base by evaluating a PD program, Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI). The program attempts to increase teachers' content knowledge of fractions and rational numbers, represented in the Common Core standards in grade 4. Findings will be of interest to stakeholders considering mathematics PD as a strategy for improving student mathematics performance.
Research Questions: This study addresses two primary research questions, one confirmatory and one exploratory:
- (Student Achievement Impact — Confirmatory): What is the impact of teacher participation in DMI on students' proficiency in the area of fractions when compared with those students whose teachers receive existing professional development activities provided by schools and districts?
- (Teacher Knowledge Impact — Exploratory): What is the impact of teacher participation in DMI on teacher knowledge of fractions when compared with teachers who only participate in existing professional development activities provided by schools and districts?
Study Design: 84 elementary schools from Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida with at least 2 fourth grade teachers, will participate in the study for one academic year (2014–2015). Random assignment will be conducted at the school-level. Teachers in DMI schools will participate in four 6-hour training sessions and complete additional homework lessons. Teachers in control schools will receive business-as-usual professional development. Teachers will complete teacher knowledge measures of fractions. Grade 4 students will be assessed with a measure of fractions developed by the Center for Improving Learning of Fractions.
Projected Release Date: Winter 2016
Research Alliance: Improving Mathematics Instruction
Study Related Products: A Making an Impact report for researchers and a summary for educators.