Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 55–79

Enhancing Students' Understanding of Mathematics: A Study of Three Contrasting Approaches to Professional Support

  • Geoffrey B. Saxe
  • Maryl Gearhart
  • Na'ilah Suad Nasir

DOI: 10.1023/A:1009935100676

Cite this article as:
Saxe, G.B., Gearhart, M. & Nasir, N.S. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education (2001) 4: 55. doi:10.1023/A:1009935100676


This report provides evidence of the influence of professional development and curriculum on upper elementary students' understandings of fractions. Three groups of teachers and their students participated. Two groups implemented a fractions unit that emphasized problem solving and conceptual understanding. The Integrated Mathematics Assessment (IMA) group participated in a program designed to enhance teachers' understandings of fractions, students' thinking, and students' motivation. The Collegial Support (SUPP) group met regularly to discuss strategies for implementing the curriculum. Teachers in the third group (TRAD) valued and used textbooks and received no professional development support. Contrasts of student adjusted posttest scores revealed group differences on two scales. On the conceptual scale, IMA classrooms achieved greater adjusted posttest scores than the other two groups, with no differences between SUPP and TRAD groups. On the computation scale, contrasts revealed no differences between IMA and TRAD, although TRAD achieved greater adjusted scores than SUPP (p < 0.10). Our findings indicate that the benefits of reform curriculum for students may depend upon integrated professional development, one form exemplified by the IMA program.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey B. Saxe
    • 1
  • Maryl Gearhart
    • 2
  • Na'ilah Suad Nasir
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeley
  2. 2.University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley
  3. 3.School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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