Beth Herbel-Eisenmann


Professional Title: 
Associate Professor
About Me (Bio): 
Beth Herbel-Eisenmann joined the mathematics education faculty in January 2008 and is an Associate Professor in the Teacher Education Department. Her research interests include bringing a discourse perspective to the study of written, enacted, and hidden curriculum in mathematics classrooms. She has drawn from speech act theory, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, and conversational analysis as well as mathematics education literatures in her research. She has also become familiar with systemic functional grammar as part of the theoretical framework for her current NSF CAREER award (Discourse analysis: A catalyst for reflective inquiry in mathematics classrooms). This grant work investigates how focusing on classroom discourse through the process action research can impact teachers’ positioning and practice over time. The use of action research can help address tensions between ‘espoused’ goals and discourse practices. Examining one’s classroom discourse can help teachers see more clearly how particular language patterns they have been enculturated into might undermine the kind of discourse they want to promote. This type of analysis offers a lens to think about how fundamental values about knowledge and authority are inherent in the classroom discourse. She is interested not only in interrogating the norms that are embedded in and carried by teacher and textbook discourse patterns, but she is also dedicated to understanding how these patterns may impact diverse students in the classroom (especially in terms of their mathematical understandings, dispositions, and epistemology).
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.