In this study, we consider the potential of multimedia cases as tools for teacher professional development. Specifically, we examined online and face-to-face discussions that occurred within groups composed of pre-service mathematics teachers, in-service mathematics teachers, mathematicians, and mathematics teacher educators. Discussions within these heterogeneous groups tended to focus on issues of classroom implementation of the tasks shown in the multimedia case. Secondary foci of discussion included task characteristics and appropriateness of tasks for engaging students in thinking about mathematical concepts and processes. Analysis of contributions to discussions across group member type revealed differences that suggest that the variety of backgrounds and experiences of group members can blend in ways that support rich and critical discussions of mathematics, teaching, and learning.
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The research was funded by the Lucent Technologies Foundation and a National Science Foundation grant (#9980081) awarded to Catherine Brown (Indiana University). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Lucent Technologies.
Appendix: Prompts for online discussions
Appendix: Prompts for online discussions
Discussion prompts for the first online discussion (sneaker problem) were taken from the facilitator’s guide to Making Weighty Decisions (Bowers et al., 2000):
What mathematical thinking took place when the students needed to combine six lists into one ranked list? Is this important mathematics in the larger scheme of mathematics?
Analyze the conversation that Group 2 had with the teacher. How did they approach the task of combining the lists before the teacher started to work with them? How about after she left? Do you think the teacher understood what they were doing? What else could she have done?
Look at the questions the teacher asked the students in Group 2 and Group 3 about their systems. What do you think she wanted to accomplish with these questions? Find two similar instances where the teacher asked students questions. Can you think of additional methods to accomplish her goal?
How did the teacher use anticipated student responses to help her plan this lesson? Do you think this was effective?
Discussion prompts for the second online discussion (the crime statistics problem). The second prompt was taken from the facilitator’s guide to Making Weighty Decisions (Bowers et al., 2000):
What other comments, questions, or concerns do you have about Day Two of ‘Making Weighty Decisions’?
Look at the interactions between the teacher and the students in each of the groups. What do you think were the teacher’s goals in her interactions with each of the four groups?
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McGraw, R., Lynch, K., Koc, Y. et al. The multimedia case as a tool for professional development: an analysis of online and face-to-face interaction among mathematics pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, mathematicians, and mathematics teacher educators. J Math Teacher Educ 10, 95–121 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-007-9030-3