Mathematics professional development and the impact on teacher practice over time

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VanderRee, Christine
First Steps in Mathematics, a mathematics professional development program being delivered in a Vancouver Island school district, was examined with the purpose of determining its impact on teacher practice. Factors that led to elementary teachers? ability to implement and/or continue to practice components of the program were identified. Mixed methods research following an explanatory design was conducted on the four cohorts of teachers who had completed or were participating in the training. The 116 eligible participants were invited to complete an on-line survey which collected both quantitative and qualitative data. From the 71 participants who completed the survey, four key informants who had demonstrated extensive implementation and continued use were selected and interviewed. An increase in teacher efficacy was found. Teachers' mathematical understanding increased as well as their preparedness to teach mathematics in all aspects of the curriculum, even those that extended beyond the scope of the course. Key factors that contributed to program implementation included: its ease of use, the ability to plan for instruction as well as the monitoring of student growth. Key factors that contributed to the program?s continued use were similar to implementation but also included the influence of support from school-based and district-based colleagues including curriculum support teachers, learning support teachers, district numeracy support and program facilitator support. Recommendations were then made to the school district and the Island Numeracy Network. The author determined that it was important to continue with the current level of support for the First Steps in Mathematics program in the school district, including the funding of the training and the continued development of resources to support the program, specifically the locally developed course binders and website. Formal and informal leadership was determined to be an important part of the program?s success and therefore aspects of it - particularly involving - leadership and collaboration should be expanded.
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