Examining Elementary Mathematics Teachers' Behaviors and Learning with an Online Professional Development Platform
Effective Years: 2023-2026
Elementary mathematics teachers have a growing need for professional learning opportunities. Online resources can provide essential support, especially for teachers from low-resourced schools, in which there is often limited funding for professional development. Online professional learning also allows teachers to work at their own pace and seek out the resources they find most useful. In this project, the investigators will explore different ways that elementary school teachers participate in online learning in a platform that includes videos, discussions, and other resources for mathematics teaching. Knowing that teachers may use the platform to different degrees depending on their interest and time available, the study will investigate how different profiles of participation influence teachers' learning. The nation-wide study will also examine how to design different types of learning experiences within the platform. Given the current reliance on online resources, it is crucial to know how teachers perceive what they learn when their learning is self-directed and self-paced.
The project will use a large-scale virtual learning community for elementary teachers to investigate how different participation profiles influence teachers' professional learning. First, the project will identify how teachers understand their own learning when interacting with an online, asynchronous, professional-learning website. The nationwide study will develop profiles of teachers who engage with the site in different ways. Some teachers may be seeking specific information for an upcoming lesson and others may be browsing for their own curiosity. Early phases of the project will use web analytics, measures of math anxiety, surveys, and interviews to develop profiles and understand how teachers perceive their learning. Second, using an experimental design, the project will test whether the perceived learning strategies identified by data mining, teacher surveys, and interviews affect teacher behaviors, which have been identified as being related to positive teaching and student-learning outcomes. The final phase will add assessments of teacher learning to test the design of interventions grounded in the analysis from the early phases.
This project is supported by NSF's EDU Core Research (ECR) program and the Discovery Research preK-12 Program. The ECR program emphasizes fundamental STEM education research that generates foundational knowledge in the field. Investments are made in critical areas that are essential, broad and enduring: STEM learning and STEM learning environments, broadening participation in STEM, and STEM workforce development. The Discovery Research preK-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.