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Professional Learning Activities in Context: A Statewide Survey of Middle School Mathematics Teachers

Abstract

"Based on a statewide survey of professional learning activities among 577 middle school mathematics teachers in Missouri, this study examined two questions: 1) What professional learning activities do middle school math teachers participate in and how much time do they spend in these activities?, and 2) How are teacher qualifications and contextual characteristics associated with the amount of their professional learning activities? The study examined seven types of formal and informal professional learning activities: 1) professional development programs, 2) teacher collaboration, 3) university courses, 4) professional conferences, 5) mentoring/coaching, 6) informal communications, and 7) individual learning activities. The study found that middle school mathematics teachers spend the greatest amount of time involved in teacher collaboration, professional development programs, and individual learning activities. In addition, mathematics teachers in high-poverty and ethnically diverse districts tend to spend more time in formal learning activities such as professional development programs, teacher collaboration, and mentoring/coaching than do mathematics teachers in wealthier and less diverse districts. To promote a greater level of teachers' participation in shared learning activities, it is important for district and school administrators to offer professional learning activities that meet mathematics teachers' learning needs for understanding students' mathematical knowledge and thinking."

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