- Year 2019
- NSF Noyce Award # 1540826
- First Name Deborah
- Last Name Nolan
- Discipline Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Math, Physics
Elisa Stone, University of California, Berkeley, email@example.com; Elisa Salasin, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org; George Johnson University of California, Berkeley, email@example.com
Elisa Stone, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jessica Charles, Bank Street College, email@example.com; Rebecca Hachmyer, University of California, Berkeley, firstname.lastname@example.org; Elisa Salasin, University of California, Berkeley, email@example.com
Preparation of novice teachers to enact complex teaching practice has received considerable attention from teacher education researchers in the last decade (Lampert et al., 2013; Ghousseni & Herbst, 2016; Kennedy, 2016; Cochran-Smith & Villegas, 2015). However, while specific professional development initiatives and some particular methods of teacher preparation have been studied for their effects on practice (e.g. Desimone, Porter Garet, Yoon & Birman, 2002), few studies have followed particular models of preparation into the classrooms of graduates several years after their completion, to examine how particular orientations to teaching are enacted by those graduates. We sought to understand how conceptions of quality practice that were elevated in elementary and secondary teaching programs? coursework and fieldwork were taken up by Berkeley graduates up to six years after graduation.
We began our study in Year 1 with a broad research question: What is the character of our graduates’ science and mathematics teaching practices? And more specifically, to what extent do inquiry-based science (Keys & Bryan, 2001; Crawford, Capps & van Driel, 2014; Lakin & Wallace, 2015) and dialogic mathematical instructional practice (Munter, Stein & Smith, 2015; Kazak, Wegerif & Fujita, 2015; Bakker, Smith & Wegerif, 2015) show up in their classrooms? In Year 2, we built upon Year 1 findings by asking the following: To the extent that they are present, how do our graduates’ inquiry and dialogic teaching practices differ across instructional formats? In Year 3 we asked: Of a subsample of four teachers identified as having performed well on valid measures of teacher performance and classroom quality, how did attributes of the classroom environment intersect with the enactment of dialogic mathematics practice?
We conducted a mixed-methods study, using a grounded theory approach, of a subset of 30 of our elementary and secondary math and science graduates, a number of whom are Noyce Scholars, of one of two teacher education programs at UC Berkeley over the course of three years (2015-2018). The quantitative and qualitative data we collected enabled us to see the level of effectiveness at enacting the practices our graduates were demonstrating. We adapted a valid and reliable quantitative observational measurement of classroom practice (Weiss et al., 2003), and took detailed qualitative scripted field notes. We developed a codebook for field notes using an iterative process to identify a combination of a priori and emergent codes, including Questioning and Discourse Moves, Standards for Mathematical Practice, and Classroom Culture, focusing on similarities and differences in classroom conditions and teacher decision-making among four case study teachers.
The most commonly observed practices identified in Year 1 & 2 of the study focused on inquiry-based learning in math and science classrooms, including frequent hands-on activities, some discussion of content prior to activities, and encouraging collaborative learning. We also noted common practices that were not consistent with inquiry, which tended to occur when the class was in a whole group configuration. In order to learn more about how the “immediacy and intensity of the classroom” (Jackson, 1968) intersected with the candidates’ capacity to enact the inquiry/dialogic practices taught in our programs, we selected four case study teachers in Year 3 based on a combination of factors, including school context and prior observations. Analysis of our data revealed that our case study teachers exemplified variation along two dimensions: Classroom Structure, which spans from loose to ordered, and Mathematical Discourse, which ranges from procedural to generative discourse.
One implication of our study is that there may be a misunderstanding, and, perhaps, a misteaching in teacher education programs, of inquiry-based/dialogic practice as a set of activities meant to engage students in hands-on experiences, with less emphasis on sensemaking for students and connecting those activities across the curriculum. Given the importance of building discourse routines that support generative mathematical discourse and the variation of classroom contexts that might support such routines, it is important to analytically parse the skills needed for classroom management from those needed to build an intellectually rigorous classroom environment for students to engage in mathematical and scientific thinking together. Novice teachers need more places to practice how to build discourse routines with students under authentic conditions.