Beth Herbel-Eisenmann


Professional Title: 
About Me (Bio): 
A former junior high mathematics teacher, I am currently Professor of Mathematics Education at Michigan State University, where I have served as Elementary Mathematics Subject Area Leader for the teacher preparation program and am currently Secondary Mathematics Subject Area Leader and teaching in the secondary teacher preparation and PhD programs. As principal investigator of an NSF early CAREER project, I spent 2004-2009 collaborating with eight secondary mathematics teachers who used action research to better align their discourse practices with their professed beliefs. We collaboratively presented findings from this project at regional and national NCTM conferences and collectively produced an edited volume, Promoting purposeful discourse: Teacher research in mathematics classrooms, which was published by NCTM in 2009. This long-term relationship was extremely influential to my practice as a mathematics teacher educator. In part because of my commitment to quality long-term collaborations with mathematics teachers, I was awarded the 2010 Early Career Award from the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE). These experiences also informed my design work co-authoring professional development (PD) materials focused on collaborating with secondary teachers to become more purposeful about their classroom discourse. These NSF-funded materials, Mathematics Discourse in Secondary Classrooms (MDISC), were piloted with seven different groups of secondary mathematics teachers in Michigan and Delaware and have fostered another long-term collaboration with eight middle school teachers who are doing action research on their classroom discourse practices. We recently presented this work at a Regional NCTM Conference in Nashville. Currently, with funding from NSF, I am working with a team of faculty, graduate students, and teachers to collaboratively develop an equitable system that focuses on access to high quality mathematics and PD experiences, agency to take action or operate on objects in a learning environment, and that develops allies who help, support, or act in solidarity with others in a particular effort. I draw on ideas from sociolinguistics and discourse literatures to research written curriculum and classroom discourse practices as well as the professional development of secondary mathematics teachers. I am especially interested in issues of equity that concern authority, positioning, and voice in mathematics classrooms and professional development. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with colleagues and graduate students in the US and Canada. Findings have been published in national and international journals, including Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, Educational Studies in Mathematics, Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, Teachers College Record, Mathematics Teacher, and Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. I have also co-edited three research volumes: Mathematics teachers at work: Connecting curriculum materials and classroom instruction (with Janine Remillard & Gwendolynn Lloyd), Equity in discourse for mathematics education: Theories, practices, and policies (with Jeffrey Choppin, David Wagner, and David Pimm), and Discourse that breaks barriers and create space for marginalized learners (with Roberta Hunter, Marta Civil, Nuria Planas, and David Wagner).
Michigan State University (MSU)

This project involves designing, facilitating, and studying professional development (PD) to support equitable mathematics education. The PD will involve grades 4-8 mathematics teachers across three sites to support the design of a two-week institute focused on enhancing access and agency in relationship to important math practices, followed by ongoing interactions for the math teachers to engage in systematic inquiry of their practice over time to facilitate equitable mathematics teaching and learning in their classrooms.

Michigan State University (MSU)

This project is examining the nature of mathematical discourse in middle school mathematics classrooms; the ways in which middle school mathematics teachers’ beliefs impact the discourse when working to enact reform-oriented instruction; and how this information can be used to incorporate practitioner research using concepts and tools of discourse analysis to improve mathematics instruction. The educational goal is to design a long-term professional development program that will continue beyond funding with other cohorts of teachers.

Michigan State University (MSU), University of Delaware (UD), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee)

This project is developing, designing, and testing materials for professional development leaders (e.g., teacher educators, district mathematics specialists, secondary mathematic department chairs) to use in their work with secondary mathematics teachers. The aim is to help those teachers analyze the discourse patterns of their own classrooms and improve their skills in creating discourse patterns that emphasize high-level mathematical explanation, justification, and argumentation.