Title page for ETD etd-07062012-103459

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Alphonso, Tiah B.
Author's Email Address tiah.alphonso@gmail.com
URN etd-07062012-103459
Title Determining Impact: Using Formative Evaluation in a Professional Development Program for Teachers of Mathematics and Science
Degree Master of Natural Sciences (M.N.S.)
Department Natural Sciences (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Madden, James Committee Chair
MacGregor, S. Kim Committee Member
Neubrander, Frank Committee Member
  • path analysis
  • coherence
  • content focus
  • active learning
  • collective participation
  • professional community
  • mathematics
  • teacher practice
  • program evaluation
  • professional development
Date of Defense 2012-06-14
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to evaluate a professional development (PD) program for middle and high school teachers of mathematics and science which is funded by a $5 million National Science Foundation grant. The evaluation was internal and formative in nature and took place in two separate phases. The focus of the evaluation was not only on program improvement but also to extend the body of existing knowledge in the area of teacher professional development. Both the needs of project stakeholders and the findings of previous research in the areas of professional development and program evaluation were drawn on to help inform the framework and direction of the study. The objectives of phase one were to ascertain participants’ perceptions of program activities, identify program activities reported as having direct impact on classroom practice, and collect recommendations for program changes. Data were collected from the 2010 mathematics cohort through survey, a focus group, interviews, and content analysis of documents. Findings suggested the following activities influenced the professional beliefs of teachers and impacted their classroom practice: viewing familiar mathematics content in alternative ways, exposure to pedagogical strategies including the principles of learning and deliberate practice in conjunction with planning for implementation, observing peers present topics from the school curriculum, and individualized assignments with support provided in various forms. Numerous recommendations for program changes were made to the program director based on the analysis of participant feedback. The objective of phase two of the evaluation was to determine the strength of Desimone’s (2009) five features of effective PD in the program and their influence on teacher knowledge and practice, as reported by participating teachers. Fifty science and math teachers out of sixty-three current and past program cohort participants responded to an invitation to complete an online survey. A path analysis was conducted from the survey results and a formal causal model was estimated. Active learning, content focus, coherence and consequent enhanced knowledge and skills and changes in teacher practice were reported at moderate to high levels. Coherence and enhanced knowledge and skills appear have the strong interconnectedness with change in teacher practice.

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