Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI): no impact on proficiency in fractions for grade 4 students

An evaluation of Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI)professional development program for teachers found that it had no impact on proficiency in fractions among grade 4 students.

Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast, in collaboration with the Improving Mathematics Instruction Research Alliance, conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of the Developing Mathematical Ideas (DMI) professional development program on grade 4 students' and teachers' understanding of fractions. DMI is designed to help teachers think through major mathematical ideas and examine and reflect on how their students develop and understand the ideas. Teachers examine vignettes of classroom teaching and examples of student work. Teachers also work on fractions problems designed to promote their own understanding of fractions concepts.

The study was conducted in 84 schools in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina during the 2014-15 school year. DMI did not have an impact on student proficiency in fractions. The impact of DMI on teachers' knowledge of fractions was inconclusive; teachers who participated in DMI performed slightly better than teachers who did not participate, but the result was not statistically significant.

When combined with previous studies that have found similar results, these findings raise concerns about the effectiveness of math professional development in bringing about changes in student learning. However, several issues arising from this study may provide guidance for policy and practice and for future research. For example, teachers may need more time than was available in the study. Also, additional support may be needed beyond participating in the professional development in order to learn, understand, and internalize the fractions content and then be able to transfer it into their teaching.

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