Profiles of Teachers’ Expertise in Professional Noticing of Children’s Mathematical Thinking

This study contributes to the growing body of research that highlights the usefulness of professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking for understanding the complexity and variability in teaching expertise. We explored the noticing expertise of 72 upper elementary school teachers engaged in multi-year professional development focused on children’s fraction thinking. Our assessment addressed the three component skills of professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking: (a) attending to children’s strategy details, (b) interpreting children’s understandings, and (c) deciding how to respond on the basis of children’s understandings. We used a latent class analysis to empirically identify three distinct “profiles” of noticing expertise—subgroups of teachers who responded similarly to each other and differently from teachers in other profiles. The profiles differed in their overall noticing expertise as well as their patterns of strengths and areas for growth across the component skills. Thus, the profiles provide a concise, multi-dimensional characterization of noticing expertise that integrates expertise in each of the component skills. The profiles also provide tools for differentiating learning opportunities for teachers in professional development. In addition, our design allowed us to compare teachers’ expertise in two common forms of deciding how to respond: deciding on follow-up questions and deciding on next problems. In all three profiles, teachers demonstrated more expertise when deciding on follow-up questions than when deciding on next problems, suggesting not only a starting point for teacher learning but also the need for a line of research focused on different forms of this component skill.

Jacobs, V. R., Empson, S. B., Jessup, N. A., Dunning, A., Pynes, D., Krause G., & Franke, T. M. (2022).  Profiles of Teachers’ Expertise in Professional Noticing of Children’s Mathematical Thinking. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education