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Middle School Mathematics Teachers

Research on Online Approaches to Professional Development



EDC (Education Development Center) and the Boston College Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative are collaborating on a research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, that is investigating the effectiveness of alternative approaches to online professional development. The research will explore the impact of these approaches on teachers’ content knowledge and instructional practices and will be led by Dr. Glenn Kleiman of EDC and Dr. Mike Russell of Boston College.


We are looking for 150 middle school (grades 7-8) mathematics teachers who are interested in participating in a professional development offering as part of this research project. As part of the project you will be enrolled in a 10-week, online course that will provide innovative algebra classroom activities for your students. The course will focus on cultivating algebraic thinking in your class through number activities and the study of patterns and functions. The course will also introduce web-based technology that is available at no cost that you can use in your classroom to help promote algebraic thinking. In return for your participation in the research activities, you will receive a $200 stipend. You can also choose to obtain graduate course credit from Antioch University Seattle for a reduced tuition fee of $300 (to which you can apply the $200 stipend).


About the Research Project:

The research will compare three types of professional development approaches. Each type will cover the same content and will require the same time commitment. The three types of professional development will be:


• Individualized self-paced: In this model, teachers do the course work on their own schedule and interact through email with a highly qualified instructor

• Learning-community: This model follows a more structured schedule, is facilitated by a highly qualified instructor, and the cohort of teachers taking the course interact with one another and the instructor through an asynchronous online forum.

• Hybrid learning-community: This model is exactly like the Learning-community model above, except that there will be a face-to-face component built into the course. This will involve 3 sessions held in your region, each for 2 to 3 hours at a time that is most convenient for the group.


What it Means to Participate:

Participants must be teachers of grade 7 or 8 mathematics. Participants must also agree to participate in whichever one of the three professional development approaches they are assigned within the research study. Each of the three courses will run over a period of 10 weeks, with an expectation that participants will spend 4 hours per week on online and off-line activities related to the course. The coursework can be done on your schedule and either at home or school over the Internet. In addition to completing the professional development coursework, participating teachers must be willing to:

• complete 2 formal surveys that will require approximately 4 hours over the course of the year,

• be available for occasional informal communication over the course of the year,

• hand out and return to research team a brief (15 minute) student survey,

• be willing to be selected for field observation and/or interviews, and

• if assigned to the hybrid learning-community group, be willing to attend the face-to-face sessions.



The first survey to collect baseline data will be conducted in December of 2003. The professional development workshops will be begin on February 16 and end on April 16, 2004. Baseline data on teachers and schools will be collected from November 2003 through January 2004. Follow-up observations and interviews will be collected April through June 2004 and possibly September through November, 2004.

Next Steps:

If you would like to participate in this professional development opportunity or would like more information, contact Rebby Carey by November 14, 2003. You can call her at 617-618-2892 or email at [log in to unmask]