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2015 Abstracts

Why Do Action Research as a T eacher? Improving Mathematics Teaching and Learning

Kristine Jolley, Brigham Young University


This research-in-progress examines the role of action research in teacher movement toward reform-based mathematics education during a sustained professional development initiative. This initiative, which provided coursework for the Utah Elementary Mathematics Endorsement (UEME), was implemented as a Brigham Young University/Alpine School District partnership collaboration. Although the UEME is offered at several sites across Utah as a major state professional development initiative in mathematics education, our collaboration was unique in incorporating action research as a major component. We pose and seek to answer the following question: What happens to teachers’ knowledge and theories regarding reform-based mathematics education as they engage in action research on a reform-based mathematics education practice of their choice in their classrooms? We have examined data collected from three cohorts of participants over the 4-year duration of the grant; each participant was involved for 2 years. Of the 53 participants, 12 (4 from each cohort) were purposefully selected according to pre- and post-measures of participants’ mathematics beliefs, knowledge, and practice as well as the dimensions of gender, ethnicity, professional assignment, and years of teaching experience. Qualitative analysis of relevant data from these participants is contributing to our understanding of the role of action research in teacher movement toward reform-based mathematics education. We are currently writing the analysis section of a manuscript based on these data. Recognition of the need for improvement in mathematics teaching and learning is not new, yet implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics adds a new layer of challenge. This in-depth study of action research as a professional development practice should inform decision-making regarding the inclusion of action research in subsequent Endorsement programs as well as in other professional development initiatives. Further, this study should add its own unique contribution to the research conversation on a broader scale.