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.

Boston University (BU)

This project explores how secondary mathematics teachers can plan and enact learning experiences that spur student curiosity, captivate students with complex mathematical content, and compel students to engage and persevere (referred to as "mathematically captivating learning experiences" or "MCLEs"). The study will examine how high school teachers can design lessons so that mathematical content itself is the source of student intrigue, pursuit, and passion. To do this, the content within mathematical lessons (both planned and enacted) is framed as mathematical stories and the felt tension between how information is revealed and withheld from students as the mathematical story unfolds is framed as its mathematical plot.

San Diego State University (SDSU)

This project will design and develop specialized instructional materials and guidelines for teaching secondary algebra in linguistically diverse classrooms. These materials will incorporate current research on student learning in mathematics and research on the role of language in students' mathematical thinking and learning. The work will connect research on mathematics learning generally with research on the mathematics learning of ELLs, and will contribute practical resources and guidance for mathematics teachers who teach ELLs.

University of Louisville Research Foundation, Inc. (ULRF)

The project will examine how teachers reason about variation subsequent to focused instruction and contribute knowledge to in-service middle and secondary mathematics teacher education by targeting characteristics of professional development that might support teachers' reasoning about variation in increasingly sophisticated ways. The project will produce a coherent collection of shareable instructional materials for use in introductory statistics education and teacher education in statistics.

Marquette University

This program of research will examine how middle school pre-service teachers' knowledge of mathematical argumentation and proving develops in teacher preparation programs. The project explores the research question: What conceptions of mathematical reasoning and proving do middle school preservice teachers hold in situations that foster reasoning about change, proportionality, and proportional relationships, as they enter their mathematics course sequence in their teacher preparation program, and how do these conceptions evolve throughout the program?

University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)

This project team partners with the mathematics department of one urban public charter high school that serves 65% students of color (most of whom identify as African American). At the school, 70% of all students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 25% of the students have Individualized Education Plans. This project investigates: 1) how mathematics teachers learn to teach the mathematics content through investigation of relevant social issues, 2) how teachers negotiate classroom dilemmas related to this approach, and 3) how students feel about mathematics and their ability to enact change toward an equitable society.

The University of Texas at Austin

This project characterizes and analyses the developing mathematical identities of Latinx students transitioning from elementary to middle grades mathematics. The central hypothesis of this project is that elementary Latino students' stories can identify how race and language are influential to their mathematical identities and how school and classroom practices may perpetuate inequities.

Kent State University

This project will address the potential positive and negative impacts of using 360-degree video for bridging the gap between theory and practice in mathematics instruction by investigating how preservice teachers' tacit and explicit professional knowledge are facilitated using immersive video technology and annotations.

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.

University of Cincinnati (UC)

This exploratory study involves a long-term partnership between the principal investigator (PI) and a middle school teacher and her students. Two major goals of the study are to describe how students learn to collaborate with one another over time to make sense of mathematics, and how students and their teacher negotiate what constitutes equitable collaboration, with African American students' perspectives being prioritized. In this way, it adds to this body of literature by: a) prioritizing African American students? perspectives on collaboration from the outset; b) describing, longitudinally, how students learn to collaborate; c) documenting students' mathematics learning within the context of small groups; and d) developing a set of resources for teacher educators, teachers, and students that focus on equitable groupwork.

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.

University of Florida (UF)

This project seeks to support emergent bilingual students in high school biology classrooms. The project team will study how teachers make sense of and use an instructional model that builds on students' cultural and linguistic strengths to teach biology in ways that are responsive. The team will also study how such a model impacts emergent bilingual students' learning of biology and scientific language practices, as well as how it supports students' identities as knowers/doers of science.

Teachers College, Columbia University

This project will collect and curate digital stories of diverse mathematicians sharing stories of their learning within and beyond schools. These short videos will become part of a more extensive digital database of mathematics stories that will be aligned with K-8 mathematics topics and then materials will be developed for teachers to use. The project team will explore the use of mathematics storytelling on K-8 teacher and student mathematics learning and engagement.

Oregon State University (OSU)

This project will test and refine a teaching model that brings together current research about the role of language in science learning, the role of cultural connections in students' science engagement, and how students' science knowledge builds over time. The outcome of this project will be to provide an integrated framework that can guide current and future science teachers in preparing all students with the conceptual and linguistic practices they will need to succeed in school and in the workplace.