Teacher voices from an online elementary mathematics community: examining perceptions of professional learning

Abstract

This study compares web usage data with interviews from 41 participants, who are members of an online professional development site called the Everyday Mathematics Virtual Learning Community (VLC), to explore how elementary school teachers learn from classroom video. Web usage data reveal that the commentary surrounding video posted to the VLC is sparse and surface level, possibly indicating a lack of serious attention to the videos. Interview data, however, indicate that participants felt they learned from this resource. Participants reported that the videos provided them with the opportunity to view and reflect on model lessons, plan curricula, and consider student thinking, among other learning outcomes. Participants also identified key factors that prevented them from posting comments to the site to convey their learning. These results can be used to understand not only how teachers perceive their own learning from classroom video, but also to redesign online professional development experiences to promote expression of that learning.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Throughout this paper, we use the term website-use data to refer to both quantitative web analytics and qualitative posted online commentary. We use the term user behavior to refer to participants’ user profiles derived from web analytics and online commentary.

  2. 2.

    We note that the reasons for not commenting could range from those that are personal (e.g., shyness) or structural (e.g., aspects of the website’s design may not effectively communicate to users the goal of commenting on video). We approached this question inductively and did not assume users were aware that commenting on video was an option and also a goal of the website.

  3. 3.

    During theoretical sampling, we observed that for some participants their self-identified user behavior conflicted with their user-behavior profile, thus calling into question the need to find participants to fit the predetermined categories. We address these divergent data in the Results section.

  4. 4.

    We discuss how Justine’s depth of commentary relates to her perceptions of learning in the Points of Convergence and Divergence subsection.

  5. 5.

    This participant only posted an online comment once, and in her interview, did not recall this event.

  6. 6.

    Note: This statement excludes the 1 video-user deep commenter who did not remember ever posting a comment and cited that she Did Not Know this was an option.

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Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1621253. We owe gratitude to the VLC members who took time to participate in interviews, which constituted the data source for this research. We thank Paul Beilstein, Jennifer Greene, Ariana Kamberelis, Ann Renninger, Linda Sims, and Jim Stigler for their thoughtful feedback at various points throughout the research process.

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Correspondence to Shereen Oca Beilstein.

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Beilstein, S.O., Henricks, G.M., Jay, V. et al. Teacher voices from an online elementary mathematics community: examining perceptions of professional learning. J Math Teacher Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-020-09459-z

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Keywords

  • Online professional development
  • Elementary mathematics education
  • Teacher education
  • Educational technology