Classroom observation and mathematics education research

  • Jonathan BosticEmail author
  • Kristin Lesseig
  • Milan Sherman
  • Melissa Boston


Classroom observations have become an integral part of research related to mathematics education. In this qualitative study, we describe the current state of the mathematics education field with regard to the use of classroom observation. The research question was: How is classroom observation being used to measure instructional quality in mathematics education research? In all, 114 peer-reviewed manuscripts published between 2000 and 2015 that involved classroom observation as part of an empirical study were examined using a cross-comparative methodology. Seventy (61%) did not use a formalized classroom observation protocol (COP), 21 (18%) developed their own COP, and 23 (20%) used a previously developed COP. Of the implemented COPs, 44% have published validity evidence in a peer-reviewed journal. We perceive the great variety of research approaches for classroom observation as necessary and potentially challenging in moving mathematics education forward with respect to research on instructional contexts.


Classroom observation Instruction Qualitative Validity 



We would like to share our sincere appreciation to Timothy Folger, Maria Nielsen, and Davis Gerber at Bowling Green State University, and Dan Chibnall at Drake University for their assistance throughout this project.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Washington State University VancouverVancouverUSA
  3. 3.Drake UniversityDes MoinesUSA
  4. 4.Duquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

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