Research

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Managing Students Contributions to Mathematical Work in Whole Class Discussions in High School: How Do Teachers Decide What to Do?

Primary Investigator(s): Patricio Herbst

Funding Agency: James S. McDonnell Foundation

Period: 1/1/2018 - ongoing

This five-year project led by Patricio Herbst is titled “Managing Students Contributions to Mathematical Work in Whole Class Discussions in High School: How Do Teachers Decide What to Do?” A teacher’s orchestration of classroom discourse in high school mathematics, especially as it concerns the management of students’ multiple solutions, requires actions that need to be informed by the specific mathematics being taught. The team reconciles situated and cognitive perspectives in examining teachers’ decision making as they steer classroom discussions in high school algebra and geometry. Building on earlier work mapping the environments for instructional decisions, this project inquires into how teachers process information from those environments to elicit and manage students’ contributions to classroom discourse. How do sociotechnical resources such as the norms of instructional situations and the professional obligations of teaching inform teachers’ perception, cognition, and emotion when they handle those contributions?

Further, the project explores how decision making can be improved by melding practitioners’ and researchers’ knowledge in the context of exploring decisions in specific mathematics lessons. The researchers will perform a series of studies of practice improvement by instantiating elements of the cycle of research to practice proposed by RAND. These include design and study of lessons, engagement of experienced and novice teachers in the StoryCircles process of lesson development, and observations of groups of teachers’ engagement in simulations of teaching built over the explorations by the StoryCircles. Artifacts collectively produced by teachers and researchers contribute to a repository of knowledge of the profession and serve to disseminate the work for professional development and teacher education, thus showcasing how to improve the connection from research to practice.

The research team is composed of nine members:

  • Project Manager: Patricio Herbst, University of Michigan
  • Daniel Chazan, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Amanda Milewski, University of Michigan
  • Edward Silver, University of Michigan
  • Jon Star, Harvard University
  • Kevin Kildea, East Detroit High School, MI
  • Craig Huhn, Holt High School, MI
  • Michele Macke, Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor
  • Marty Schnepp, Holt High School