Changes in Teacher Beliefs and Discourse Ecology in Middle-School Mathematics Classrooms
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This Record of Study summarizes my journey in the program and my investigation of the problem of improving mathematics instruction. The exploration of the problem space spanned three years before culminating in the problem statement. Using a positive deviance approach and understanding the values of stakeholders narrowed the scope of the problem of practice. Successful teachers, positive deviants, demonstrated the ability to implement strategies learned in professional development in their classrooms. Struggling teachers in similar sessions made only token attempts, if they even remembered the strategies shared. The gap between what is shared with teachers in traditional professional development workshops and the implementation of change in the mathematics classroom became the focus of research. A review of mathematics education literature, as well as that dedicated to improving professional learning, inspired a coaching follow-up intervention as a potential solution to the problem. Student discourse was a focus of professional development and is supported by literature as a critical strategy in facilitating student construction of mathematics concepts. The coaching intervention was provided to classroom teachers as a follow-up to traditional and online professional development on student discourse. In order to understand the possible impact and potential effectiveness of intervention, the following research questions were investigated: 1. Were there changes in teachers’ beliefs post-coaching intervention—specifically, how did teacher beliefs change regarding student discourse and their role as a teacher in facilitating student discourse? 2. Were there changes in teachers’ ability to facilitate student discourse in the mathematics classroom? The coaching intervention consisted of four classroom observations, feedback for each observation to the classroom teacher, discussions within Professional Learning Community meetings, and face-to-face and virtual communication via e-mail. All four teachers demonstrated a change in beliefs specifically relating to the importance of student discourse. They also demonstrated an increased capacity for facilitating student discourse on a higher cognitive level as measured on some, if not all, discourse ecology factors.
Coker, Bianca M. (2015). Changes in Teacher Beliefs and Discourse Ecology in Middle-School Mathematics Classrooms. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from