UGA researchers to study link between teacher professional development, student achievement

November 29, 2006

Three University of Georgia education researchers will study how mathematics teachers understand professional development, how that impacts their understanding of mathematics and what difference that makes to student learning.

The three-year project, which will begin in January, is funded by a National Science Foundation grant of nearly $1 million. It will involve about 90 mathematics teachers from Atlanta Public Schools, a collaborating partner.

"These are important questions because little is known about what impact professional development has on teachers' practices or on student achievement," said Chandra Orrill, the project's principal investigator and a research scientist in the College of Education's Learning Performance and Support Laboratory.

Andrew Izsák, associate professor of mathematics education, and Allen Cohen, director of the Georgia Center for Assessment and professor of educational psychology, are co-principal investigators.

The research will look at the relationship between professional development and student learning in three key areas including what the teachers learned from professional development, whether there are indications that the teachers' practices changed as a result of their participation and whether there are measurable changes in student understanding that can be attributed to teacher learning.

The UGA researchers will work with about 60 sixth and seventh grade math teachers participating in a 50-hour professional development program that focuses on Number Concepts, one of the key foci of middle grades mathematics. This is the mathematics area that includes working with fractions, decimals, percents and proportions. Thirty teachers will be tracked as a comparison group.

The professional development program is one of several courses from the InterMath project, which was developed by UGA education researchers with previous NSF funds and explicitly designed to meet the needs of Georgia's mathematics teachers.

The team will provide professional development experience for the teachers that will include assessments of their understandings as well as interviews about their teaching. The teachers also will be asked to administer a pretest and posttest to their students focused on some of the critical mathematical ideas. A subset of the teachers will be asked to participate in subsequent case studies in which researchers will videotape their teaching for analysis.

"We are using state-of-the-art instruments, and both statistical and video-based data collection methods to maximize our chances of seeing any connection and explaining what may or may not be occurring," Izsák said. "We do not take any connections as given."

The $999,958 grant, from the NSF's Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering program, will help cover expenses for data collection and teachers' participation in the workshops, as well as for researchers' time to collect and analyze the data. The project is also expected to employ three graduate students.
For more information on the LPSL, see the Web site at

University of Georgia

Related Mathematics Articles from Brightsurf:

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics
How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?
Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows
Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics
Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function
Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing
New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics
For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics
Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics
Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored
Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to