|DMI IMPLEMENTATION AND RESEARCH
|PROJECTS INVOLVING DMI
When the Learners' Thinking
Takes Center Stage:
A Study of Teacher and Classroom Change
January 1997 - August 1999
research project examined the changing beliefs, knowledge, and classroom
practices of teachers who participated in a professional development seminar
entitled Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI).
In a year-long, 48-hour seminar, teachers:
In providing these opportunities,
DMI belongs to the genre of professional development so often called for
professional development that is long term, subject-matter intensive,
and rooted in both student work and classroom practice. The goal of When
the Learners Thinking Takes Center Stage was to learn in some
detail about the changes set in motion by this professional development.
- (a) studied elementary
mathematics to deepen their own understanding of it,
- (b) studied the development among children of the ideas central to
elementary mathematics, and
- (c) experienced a teaching and learning environment focused on the
joint exploration of ideas.
What happens when,
over the course of one year, teachers attention is focused on an
exploration of the fundamental mathematical ideas of the elementary curriculum?
What happens as teachers gain experience of themselves as mathematical
thinkers, and of children as mathematical thinkers? What happens when
teachers gain experience of classrooms both teacher seminar classrooms
and elementary classrooms in which student ideas are expressed,
explicitly represented, and built on to formulate stronger ideas?
In addressing these
questions this study followed two DMI seminar groups and the classroom
practices of seminar participants. The data include:
- Video recordings
of the seminar meetings of two different DMI seminar groups that met
during the 1996 -1997 school year. Each seminar group was videotaped
8 of the 16 times they met during the year, at approximately 1-month
- Teacher portfolio
writing from all participants at each of the 2 seminar sites.
- Video recordings
of mathematics classes in the elementary classrooms of each of 6 of
the teachers participating in one of the seminar groups. Four visits
were made to each of the classrooms, 3 were scheduled during the year
that the teachers were participating in the DMI seminar (fall, winter,
and spring 1996 97), and the 4th visit was scheduled in the fall
of the following year (1997-98).
- Tape recordings
of after-class interviews with these same 6 teachers.
The data provide
converging evidence that virtually all of the teachers came to believe
that they and their students have ideas about the subject matter they
study, and that these ideas belong, front and center, in the classroom.
Virtually all of the teachers learned mathematics in the seminar context,
and for roughly half of the participants there is evidence that outside
of the seminar teachers continued to learn mathematics through an examination
of the work of their own students in their own classrooms. Finally, for
all 6 of the teachers for whom there are classroom observations and interviews,
there is strong evidence that teaching practices changed in a particular
direction. Teachers classroom practices increasingly supported the
articulation and representation of students mathematical reasoning
and ideas, and through the teachers own engagement with the mathematics,
increasingly supported students rigorous investigation of the ideas
The results of this
study are reported more fully in a forthcoming book Teachers
Professional Development and the Elementary Mathematics Classroom: Bringing
Understandings to Light. The book is written for a broad audience
both school-based and university-based and is currently
available from Lawrence
This project was supported by a joint grant from the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation and the Spencer Foundation under the Professional
Development Research and Documentation Program.
For more information,