The effects of an intensive mathematics immersion program on secondary mathematics teachers
Matthews, Mary Elizabeth R.
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PROMYS for Teachers offers an extreme example of the experience-as-learner professional development model for teachers of middle and high school mathematics. The 6-week summer experience involves intensive, extended immersion in mathematics in an inquiry-based environment without formal discussion of connections to the secondary mathematics classroom. This research examined the experience of participants in the program and then the influences ofthe program on participant beliefs and actions. To first understand participants' experiences in the program, a case study was done on two participants during the program. To investigate the effects of this program on its participants, pre- and post-program surveys on beliefs, task choice and implementation were administered to the summer 2011 cohort, and surveys were sent to program alumni. Also, classroom data was collected from one case study participant. Case studies indicated that participants of the program experienced mathematics as a dynamic field of study and as a social endeavor. Participants' outside lives were affected during the summer of the program as they continued to take work home and experiencing cognitive fatigue. The two case study participants engaged in the program in different ways but both reported enjoying the program. Only one ofthe two believed it would affect her teaching. Pre- and post-programs surveys indicated that the relationship between participant beliefs and participant task choice and implementation was not affected by participation in the program. Alumni surveys indicated that while some participants felt that they have changed their instruction, others did not see any connection to their classroom. Classroom data collected from the case study did not indicate the use of cognitively challenging tasks with students following program participation. However, the case study participant indicated in her final interview that a chance event caused her to reflect on her program experience and change her classroom instruction. Overall, the data suggest that the program may affect participants' instructional decisions, but many participants did not see the c01mection to the classroom. Future research should investigate how the influences of a reflective component on participants' beliefs and classroom instructional choices or if characteristics of certain participants enable them to reflect independently.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University