Category Research

Two Doctor of Education professors recently served as guest editors of the New England Mathematics Journal for two special issues focusing on effective teaching strategies within the mathematics classroom.

Karen Karp, a visiting professor, and Stephen Pape, a professor and director of the program, were joined by scholars who researched ways to successfully support the efforts of mathematics teachers to engage K-12 students in meaningful learning.

“Recognizing that the quality of a K-12 classroom teacher’s instruction is one of the foremost predictors of students’ mathematics learning, the articles shared in these issues are situated within the effort to bridge research to approaches with useful and meaningful classroom applications,” said Karp.

The journal, which emphasizes the integration of research and practice for mathematics teachers across the country, contained several articles written by current and former Doctor of Education (EdD) students and faculty, including Susanna Brock, “Addressing the Gender Gap in Mathematics: Results of an Intervention of Single-Gender Mathematics Activities at an Independent Middle School”; Sara Donaldson, “Critical Colleagueship: Teaming up for Professional Growth”; Beth Kobett, “A University-led Beginning Teacher Mathematics Learning Community”; and Sherri Prosser, “Will to Learn in an Online Mathematics Professional Development.”

The authors focused on the use of effective, research-informed teaching strategies that emerge not only in the mathematical practices and processes described in recent standard documents, but also in eight teaching practices specified in Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014).

Brock, a recent EdD graduate and a contributor to the special issues, analyzed a well-known gap between girls and boys functioning at the highest levels of performance in mathematics.

“There are large disparities between these high-performing girls and boys in mathematics efficacy, belongingness and ultimately achievement,” said Brock, a mathematics specialist at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn.

Using the model of a supplementary single-sex class, Brock delved into the challenges and rewards of creating and presenting an extra mathematics opportunity for fifth- and seventh-grade students. Despite facing an initial backlash from some middle-grades girls, she carried out a successful two-year intervention that provides a model for other schools.

Donaldson, a current EdD student and instructor at Roger Williams University, explored the work of elementary mathematics specialists who cited a lack of opportunities to work together and a sense of isolation. She decided to promote the concept of critical colleagueship, or the creation of collective reflection and discourse where questions and concerns about educational issues are raised and pondered.

Through examination of the differences between working as a group and a team, the coaches designed a plan for effective and productive teamwork as a sustainable resource for ongoing professional growth and learning.

Kobett, a recent EdD graduate and a mathematics educator at Stevenson University, used her dissertation research as the foundation of her article. Noticing that she was frequently contacted by her former students for guidance, she organized an induction program to support novice teachers in maintaining resilience in their fledgling path toward creating student-centered, reform-oriented instructional practice.

“While many such gatherings of novice teachers can become airings for problems and difficulties, I approached the sessions with a different theoretical framework,” said Kobett. “Through the use of appreciative inquiry as a model for the sessions’ structure, there was a shift of attention to effective approaches and the new teachers’ strengths.”

Prosser, an EdD faculty member, situated her research within a larger study—a yearlong professional development project that was the equivalent of three university courses.

She sought to understand the effect of online professional development to support elementary teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching, teaching learners with a high-incidence of disabilities, and practitioner inquiry. This study investigated how teachers vary in their “will to learn” by analyzing how they learned to be more reflective, become open to others’ feedback, investigate educational innovations, gain insights into their personal qualities, and explicitly describe effective learning experiences.

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