Supporting the Emergence of a Professional Teaching Community Through Collective Knowledge-Building in Assessment and Feedback of Mathematical Thinking (Collaborative Research: Silverman)

This collaborative project is developing an online, professional teaching community that addresses issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that works to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students.

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This collaborative work involves Drexel University and Temple University where they are developing an online, professional teaching community that is addressing issues of assessment in mathematics classes. The developers are building on the success of the NSF-supported Math Forum's Problem of the Week program to create a community that is working to increase students' mathematics learning by helping teachers stimulate student thinking, assess that thinking, and provide useful feedback to students. The teachers are working together to create rubrics for assessing the progress of students as they solve challenging mathematics problems. The program is structured so that the teachers are learning mathematics and assessment strategies in addition to establishing a research-based model for online, professional communities.

Researchers are studying how specific activities (e.g., discourse, active participation, use of rubrics, feedback, and reflection) and an online community support teachers' engagement in authentic and generative assessment. Researchers are using ethnographic methods to understand the development of the community, and conducting focus groups and individual interviews to determine the impact of participation in the community on mathematics teachers. In addition, they are collecting data through discourse analysis, student work analysis, and rubric analysis to determine the optimal design of the products. The intentional structure of the online community builds on research findings on creating professional communities and research on assessing mathematics learning.

Online professional teaching communities offer new venues for communication, professional development, and shared work among mathematics teachers. The Math Forum provides an optimal, online context for expanding the popular Problem of the Week into a productive discussion of assessment of problem solving, the building of specific rubrics, and the related reflection on how to encourage student thinking. This collaborative work will offer rubrics for assessing mathematical problem solving, a new model for online professional development, and extensive information on building an online mathematics community.